Pope Francis reflected on last weekend’s Apostolic Voyage to Egypt during his weekly General Audience, recalling the various stages of his trip.
The Holy Father thanked the people of Egypt for their warm welcome, and noted the “extraordinary commitment” of the Egyptian authorities to ensure his visit went off without a hitch.
He spoke of his visit to the Al-Azhar University, which was focused on both “dialogue between Christians and Muslims” and “the promotion of peace” in the world. Pope Francis summarized his address at the International Conference for Peace, emphasizing Egypt’s history as a “land of civility” and a “land of covenant.” Egypt, he said, echoing the speech of the Grand Imam, “reminds us that peace is built through education, formation in wisdom, a humanism that includes the religious dimension, the relationship with God, as an integral part.” He continued, saying peace is built on the relationship between God and men, and on the alliance between all human beings. This, the Pope said, is the foundation for a civil and social order in which all are called to participate.
Pope Francis also spoke about the role of Christians, who are called to be a “leaven of fraternity,” in Egypt and elsewhere. He said his meeting with his “dear brother” Pope Tawadros II – the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch – and their “Common Statement” were signs of the commitment of Christians to that fraternity. The Pope recalled the prayers for the martyrs of the Coptic Orthodox Church, the victims of very recent violence, whose sacrifice and common witness lent a particular fruitfulness to the work of ecumenism.
The second day of the Pope’s voyage was dedicated to the Catholic faithful. The Mass celebrated by Pope Francis was, he said, a feast of faith and fraternity. He recalled his homily, in which he encouraged Egyptian Catholics to relive the experience of the disciples at Emmaus, when they “encountered the Lord.”
The Holy Father also reflected on the final event of his Voyage, the meeting with priests, religious, and seminarians. He noted in particular the many seminarians in Egypt, which he called a “consolation.”
Concluding his remarks, Pope Francis said Christians in the region, guided by their pastors, should be “salt and light” for the Middle East. He called his voyage to Egypt “a sign of hope, refuge, and help,” and said it “signifies walking together along the path of hope.” Pope Francis said Egypt is a “sign of hope” for fraternity, not just in the past, but also for the present day.