The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis will visit Egypt next week despite attacks on churches that left at least 45 people dead.

Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, told Catholic News Service: “The Pope’s trip to Egypt proceeds as scheduled.” Francis will meet state and religious leaders during his visit to Cairo next Friday and Saturday.

Fr Rafic Grieche, spokesman for the Egyptian bishops, also told CNS: “Egyptians are looking forward to Pope Francis’s visit, although the atmosphere at present is heavy.

“The Pope’s mission is to be beside his brothers at the time of difficulty. Now is the real time that he can bring peace and hope to the Egyptian people as a whole and to the Christians of the East, in particular,” Fr Grieche added.

Pope Tawadros II, leader of Egypt’s Orthodox Copts, remembered the victims at Saturday’s Easter vigil at St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral. He said: “History will remember the Palm Sunday martyrs. God selected them on that day to be ambassadors in heaven to pray for us.”

The pope described President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s visit to the cathedral in the wake of the blasts as a “huge show of solidarity”.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection