Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican June 17, 2015. (Photo:Reuters)
Roman Catholic Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in Cairo on 28 April for a two-day visit where he will meet with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and religious leaders in the country, a presidency statement said on Monday.
Pope Francis will participate in a ceremony to be held on the occasion of his visit, where El-Sisi and Pope Francis will address the audience.
“Egypt welcomes His Holiness Pope Francis on his first visit to Cairo and looks forward to this important visit, which will contribute to establishing peace and spreading the principles of tolerance and coexistence,” presidency spokesman Alaa Yousef said in the statement.
The pope’s itinerary will include visits to Al-Azhar – the world’s highest authority on Sunni Islam – where he will meet with Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayyeb and take part in an international conference on peace organised by Al-Azhar.
Pope Francis will also meet with Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II and participate in a prayer service for the victims of the December bombing of St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church — which is adjacent to the main Coptic Cathedral complex in central Cairo.
Twenty-seven people, mostly women and children, died in the suicide bombing, which was later claimed by the Islamic State militant group.
On 29 April, Pope Francis will preside over a prayer service and meet with the clergy of Egypt's Catholic Church.
Pope Francis’s visit will coincide with the 70th anniversary of the start of diplomatic relationships between Egypt and the Vatican.