Pope Francis has landed in Cairo on a two-day visit to Egypt, saying his apostolic voyage will be one of “unity and fraternity.”
Speaking to journalists on the papal plane, the Holy Father said the visit had a “special aspect” because he had been invited by four of Egypt’s leading civil and religious figures: the country’s president, Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Patriarch of the Catholic Coptic Church (Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak) and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar university.
“From these four came the invitation for this visit, a visit of unity and fraternity,” the Pope said. “I thank you for your work that, being less than two days, will be very, very intense.”
On arrival at Cairo international airport, the Pope was driven to the Presidential Palace in Heliopolis where was given a formal ceremonial welcome and had a private meeting with President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi. He was then driven to Al-Azhar university where met the Grand Imam, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb.
The Pope’s next engagement will be at the university’s conference center to take part in an International Conference on Peace where he will deliver a discourse.
Shortly before 5pm, the Pope will travel to a meeting with civil and political authorities where he will deliver his second address of the day, followed by a meeting at 5pm with Pope Tawadros at his residence and give his third speech. This will be followed by an ecumenical procession with other Christian confessions during which Francis will recite a prayer and exchange a sign of peace.
Soon after 6pm, the Holy Father will then be driven 6 miles to the apostolic nunciature in Cairo where he will spend the night.