Pope prays for victims of attack on Coptic church in Egypt
VATICAN— After a bomb blast killed over 20 people and wounded several others during Palm Sunday celebrations in Egypt, Pope Francis voiced his closeness to the Coptic nation, and prayed for those who perpetrate violence through the arms trade.
After celebrating Palm Sunday Mass April 9, Pope Francis prayed for victims of “the attack that unfortunately took place today near Cairo,” voicing his closeness to Coptic Patriarch Pope Tawardos II, to and to the entire death Coptic nation.
“I express my heartfelt sorrow,” he said, and prayed that the Lord would “convert the hearts of those who sow fear, violence and death, and those who make and traffic arms.”
The Pope’s words came shortly after a bomb attack took place on the Coptic Christian Church of Mar Gerges in the northern city of Tanta, Egypt.
Worshippers had already packed the area to celebrate Palm Sunday Mass when the bomb was detonated. According to the Associated Press, at least 26 were killed and around 70 others wounded in the blast.
A second blast took place shortly after outside of a Christian church in Alexandria, killing 11 and wounding around 25. The man, a suicide bomber, had tried to storm the entrance to the church before being stopped by police, three of whom died in the blast. ISIS has claimed responsibility for both attacks.
The bombings took place just two weeks before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the Egyptian captial of Cairo April 28-29 in what is largely a bid to foster greater Catholic-Muslim dialogue, particularly on the point of ending extremist violence.
Francis offered his words of sorrow before leading pilgrims in the traditional Angelus prayer after Mass.
In his brief words before the prayer, he offered a special greeting to all those participating in WYD and their bishops, particularly those from Poland and Panama, and the Church and civil authorities who accompanied them to the Mass.
He also prayed for victims of the terrorist attacks that took place Friday, April 7, in Stockholm, when a 39-year-old Uzbek-native drove a large lorry truck into a department store, killing four and wounding 10, including a child.
Francis offered prayers for the victims as well as the many who are “still strongly tried by war, the tragedy of mankind.”