by WorldTribune Staff, April 30, 2017
Egypt’s religious leaders have an “obligation” to condemn “violence in the name of religion,” Pope Francis said on April 28.
“Let us say once more a firm and clear ‘No!’ to every form of violence, vengeance, and hatred carried out in the name of God,” the pope said during his speech at the 10th century Al-Azhar mosque.
“No act of violence can be perpetrated in the name of God, for it would profane His name,” the pope said.
Related: Egypt’s Sisi uses social media, puts heat on imams in campaign to reform Islam, May 31, 2015
Francis stated that “Egypt has a unique role to play in the Middle East and among those countries seeking solutions to pressing and complex problems that need to be faced now in order to avoid the spread of worse violence.”
Francis visited Egypt less than three weeks after Palm Sunday attacks on two Coptic Christian churches in left 45 dead and scores injured.
Christians make up around 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 92 million, and the vast majority of those are Copts.
In a meeting with Pope Francis on April 28, Egyptian President Abdul Fatah Sisi said “Egyptian Christians are an inseparable part of the nation. The state is committed to treating all nationals equally on grounds of citizenship and constitutional and legal rights,” adding that “the state is further reinforcing the culture of equality and patriotism in face of extremism.”
Francis used his speech at Al-Azhar to invoke the intercession of his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi who, 800 years ago, traveled to Egypt to meet with Islamic military leader Sultan al-Kamil during the Crusades.
Francis noted that it was in Egypt, at Mount Sinai, that God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, religious laws that include the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”
“As religious leaders, we are called, therefore, to unmask the violence that masquerades as purported sanctity and is based more on the ‘absolutizing’ of selfishness than on authentic openness to the Absolute,” he said.
Sisi said he “admired noble stances undertaken by Pope Francis in favor of human values, hope, unity, and virtue.”
“Your visit is historic and confirms our common belief in the values of the Abrahamic religions, which oppose violence and destruction among human beings, as the world witnesses a wave of hatred, violence, terrorism, and unprecedented challenges for all humanity that affect us all,” Sisi told the pope.