Pope Francis refuses bullet-proof vehicle for Egypt trip
VATICAN– Pope Francis will not use a bulletproof vehicle during his trip to Egypt this weekend, despite recent terror attacks against Christians in the country, according to Reuters.
“The Pope will use a closed car to move around, but not an armoured one,” Vatican spokesman Greg Burke confirmed yesterday. “That’s how he wanted it.”
This is not the first time Pope Francis has done so – he typically prefers to travel in more open vehicles, or ones that are not bulletproof, because he feels that allows him to better interact with the people on the streets.
Pope Francis will be traveling to Cairo, Egypt, April 28-29 for his first international trip of the year. Interfaith dialogue with Muslims and showing solidarity with persecuted Christians will be main priorities of the trip.
His trip comes after several recent attacks on Christian in the country.
In December, a bombing at Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral killed at least 25 people and wounded dozens of others, most of them women and children.
On Palm Sunday, the bombing of two Coptic churches killed 43 and injured more than 100 others.
Last week, gunmen attacked security forces near the famous St Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai desert, killing a police officer and injuring three others. This attack and the church bombings were all claimed by ISIS.
Egypt’s president has declared a three-month state of emergency in the country following the Palm Sunday attacks. Despite the risk, the Vatican announced earlier this month that the Pope’s trip to Egypt would continue as planned.
Pope Francis was invited to visit Egypt by Coptic Catholic bishops during their visit at the Vatican Feb. 6. The Pope had also received an invitation to visit Egypt from the country’s president and from the Grand Imam of al Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayyeb, after his visit to the Vatican in the spring of 2016, marking a thaw in Vatican-Muslim relations in Egypt.
During his trip, Pope Francis will meet with the Grand Imama state officials, leaders of Egypt’s Catholic Coptic and Orthodox Coptic churches, and Catholic priests and religious of the country.