Pope’s closeness to Egypt’s suffering Christians is crucial during Cairo visit
(Vatican Radio) Father Christopher Clohessy, a professor at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies said it’s crucial that Egypt’s suffering Christian minority feel the pastoral closeness of Pope Francis during his 24 hour visit to Cairo. The priest, who spent years living and working in the Egyptian capital, also said that the Pope’s “tireless” work for good interfaith relations and his meetings with other religious leaders represent another important aspect of the papal visit. He was interviewed by Linda Bordoni.
Listen to the interview with Father Christopher Clohessy:
Speaking ahead of Pope Francis’ departure for Cairo, Father Clohessy outlined what he saw as the key issues shaping the ongoing dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Islamic world and what he hopes this papal visit to Egypt will achieve.
The priest stressed the importance of the Vatican maintaining a theological relationship with the Al-Azhar institution in Cairo that is widely seen as the leading centre of learning of Sunni Islam, saying he he hoped this relationship “will be strengthened by the Pope’s visit.”
Father Clohessy spoke of how Egypt’s Christian minority have been suffering from discrimination and often actual persecution for many decades. They need, said he, to hear the Pope speak to them and offer “words of hope and comfort……. and speak what has to be said.”
In conclusion, Father Clohessy said he hoped that the Pope’s words during his apostolic visit to Egypt will “resonate in all hearts, not just in Christian ones but in Muslim ones as well.”