Assiut (Agenzia Fides) – The International Conference for Peace hosted by al Azhar Sunni University, in Cairo which will have its climax in the afternoon of Friday 28 April with a speech by Pope Francis, “will issue a statement on what is called 'Renewal of the Religious Approach, prepared also with the help of authoritative scholars of the prestigious Islamic centre”. Fides was told this by Copt Catholic Bishop Anba Kyrillos William Samaan, in Assiut. “The news, reported by the press, appears to be interesting” says Anba Kyrillos “taking into account the call for 'renewal of the religious approach ' to counter fanatical and extremist tendencies’ made by several times President Abdel Fattah al Sisi precisely at Azhar, and more insistently since the beginning of 2015. And so far, the President has frequently lamented the scarce attention given to his request ”.
The al Azhar Conference which opened today, Thursday 27 April, will focus on the role of religious leaders to counter terrorism and on efforts to consolidate the principles of citizenship and integration. According to official information issued by al Azhar, papers and interventions will concentrate on thematic nuclei connected with the safeguarding of peace and its defence from threats, including manipulation and misinterpretation of Sacred Texts. Participants at the Conference include, besides Pope Francis, primates of other Churches such as Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Patriarch Theodoros Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria and all Africa, Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church, all personally invited by Sheikh Ahmed al Tayyib, Grand Imam of al Azhar.
Anba Kyrillos confirmed to Fides the sense of expectancy all over the country for the visit of Pope Francis: “The government has lined the streets with posters of welcome. The Copt Orthdox brothers have also exposed welcome messages. Young Catholics are arriving in Cairo from all over Egypt on a pilgrimage of catechesis and spiritual reflection to culminate on Saturday morning with the mass celebrated by the Pope at the Military Air Force Sports Stadium. But already tomorrow Friday they will take part in a mass celebrated by Copt Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac with other Catholic bishops, in premises owned by the Brothers of Christian Schools in New Cairo. Tomorrow evening, a small group of young people will go into the garden of the Nuntiature to make a bit of ‘noise’ in the hope that Pope Francis, before or after supper, may look out from the window and say a few words”. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 27/4/2017).