ACN News: Thursday, 20th April 2017 – EGYPT
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) will help 3,000 young Egyptians to meet Pope Francis in Cairo
• ACN requests prayers for Pope Francis´ visit in EGYPT 28th-29th April
Three thousand young people from all over the country will undertake a pilgrimage to Cairo to take part in Pope Francis´ visit to Egypt over the 28th and 29th April. The journey will start Tuesday 25th of April and will include liturgy celebrations in different shrines on the way to Cairo, celebration of Masses and confessions, as well a visit to hospitals and shelters in Cairo the day before the arrival of the Holy Father. The group will be comprised of 250 representatives from each Catholic diocese of Egypt along with 1,000 participants from Cairo itself.
“The visit of His Holiness presents a huge importance for our faithful people, evermore, for the Egyptian community with all its different groups”, writes Father Hani Bakhoum Kiroulos, Vice President of the coordinating committee for the Papal visit. ACN is one of the supporters of the pilgrimage. In a letter he wrote to the charity he points out the crucial role youth will play regarding the future of the country: “It is important to seek strong reasons for life and hope, especially in the current circumstances we are undergoing in Egypt. Many young people have the desire to participate in the huge event; therefore we want to give them the chance of a good preparation”.
(Young people in Egypt pray for peace © Aid to the Church in Need)
Johannes Heereman, Executive President of Aid to the Church in Need stressed the significance of the visit for the country: “As a Pontifical Foundation, seeking to sustain our brothers and sisters who are persecuted or in need because of their faith, I think it is of high importance that we offer our concrete help for the visit of the Holy Father to Egypt. This country which is constantly named in the Holy Scripture, which is testimony of the life of so many martyrs and where Christ´s parents found shelter while fleeing from Herod, is becoming a centre of persecution and suffering. In order to help Christians persevere in their faith and in unity to the Holy Father, ACN supports young Christians to participate in the encounter and in the visit itself.”
The visit will include a meeting with His Holiness Pope Tawadros, the Pope of Alexandria for the Coptic Orthodox, highlighting the importance of the fraternity between the Coptic Orthodox and the Catholic Church. A key moment for the current situation - not just in the country itself but in the whole geographic area - is the planned visit to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb, as well as the speeches of the Imam and the Pope to the participants in the international conference of peace.
Taking into consideration the importance for these encounters - especially after the horrific attacks to the Christian Orthodox Coptic community on Palm Sunday - Heereman encourages people to support the Holy Father´s visit to Egypt with prayers: “Together with our financial support we will launch a prayer action through social media to accompany this important visit of the Holy Father. ‘Pope of peace in Egypt of peace’ is the slogan of Pope Francis’ trip to Egypt. Tragically it comes soon after two mortal explosions hit Coptic Christian churches, but we have to keep praying for this peace. Dialogue among groups of different religions to avoid further isolate extremism and violence is needed. We also pray for the security and safety of the Holy Father and all participants. Finally, like Pope Francis requested, we should not forget to pray for the dead and the injured, for the family members and for the entire community.”
The last papal visit to Egypt was in February 2000 when Pope John Paul II visited the country including Cairo and Sinai.
(Branded for their faith. History tells us that when Arab Muslims invaded Egypt, Christians were treated like cattle when they were branded by fire. From this developed the tradition where Coptic believers old and young alike, often have a cross tattooed on their wrist in a similar position to where Jesus was nailed to the cross, to indicate their commitment to Christ © Aid to the Church in Need)
Aid to the Church in Need has been helping the Christians in Egypt for many years. Since the beginnings of the political upheavals in early 2011, more than $6 million have been granted for projects including the construction of churches, the training of priests and the provision of pastoral care for the youth.
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 172 languages and 50 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
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