In the wake of deadly explosion at Cathedral complex in Cairo, Pope Francis has voiced his sadness over the incident as he phoned Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria on December 12, Monday. During the conversation, he expressed his heartfelt condolences for the loss of precious lives in the terrorist attack.
Bombing at St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo left 25 dead and 49 injured. “We are united in the blood of our martyrs,” Pope Francis told Orthodox patriarch, an official statement from the Vatican said. The patriarch thanked Pope Francis for his closeness at such a sad time and asked his continued prayers for the Copts and for peace in Egypt, the statement said.
Pope Francis strongly condemned the terrorist attacks in Egypt and Turkey and urged the people to hold fast to their religious faith and continue to uphold basic human values such as love, patience and tolerance etc.
The Pontiff after reciting the Angelus on December 11, offered special prayers for the “victims of savage terrorist attacks” in Egypt. On December 10, another terrorist attack in Turkey killed about 40 people. “The places are different, but the violence is the same,” Pope Francis said. In response to the “death and destruction,” there is only one response: “faith in God and unity in human and civil values.”
During his address, the Pontiff told the crowds in Saint Peter’s Square that he feels closeness to the persecuted who are besieged in Aleppo. “We must not forget that Aleppo is a city and that there are people there: families, children, elderly, sick,” he said. “Unfortunately we have become used to the war and destruction, but we must not forget that Syria is a country full of history, culture and faith. We cannot allow this to be negated by war, which is a pile of abuse and falsity.”
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated that Saint Mark himself was also not a stranger to the faith based persecution. In a statement issued on December 11, following the Cairo bombings he said: “Those who gathered to worship the Lord at his cathedral this morning in Cairo are family to us. We draw near to our Coptic brothers and sisters in prayer, sorrow and comfort. And we are confident in the healing power of our Lord Jesus Christ. The lives lost strengthen the faith of Christians everywhere and offer a testament to the great privilege of worshiping God in peace.
“This weekend has witnessed the darkness of violence reach into many places, including Turkey, Somalia and the church building collapse in Nigeria. But the light still shines! Today let us offer a special prayer for all those facing persecution,” he said.
Following the incident, Father Rafic Greiche, an Egyptian Catholic stated: “Our heart is with Patriarch Tawadros II … and our brother church, and we wish for goodness in Egypt, and call on the heads of state to quickly bring those responsible to justice.” He added that the attack is “a cowardly, terrorist act on a house of God,” adding that “the church in our country is suffering due to the murder and spilling of blood of innocents.”
Bishop Fahim, from the Egyptian province of Minya stated: “We tell the terrorist that no matter what you do, Christians will remain steadfast in their faith and in adherence to their country, Egypt.”