Pilgrim for peace:Francis' visit to Egypt was an audacious attempt to reach out in friendship to the Muslim world

04 May 2017 | by Christopher Lamb


The visit of Pope Francis to a country fraught with political and religious tension was an audacious attempt to reach out in friendship to the Muslim world

Travelling to the Central African Republic almost two years ago, Pope Francis was asked mid-flight if he feared for his safety, given that the country was an active war zone.
“All I’m worried about are the mosquitos,” he said smiling, while miming the spraying of insect repellent on his arms.

The light-hearted remark masked a steely determination to press ahead with a potentially dangerous trip, in spite of the warnings of his security advisers. The same is true for last week’s equally risky 27-hour visit to Egypt, where Francis again put himself in the firing line: less than three weeks before arriving in Cairo, Islamic State had claimed responsibility for bomb attacks on two Coptic churches that had claimed the lives of 45 people.

But for the 80-year-old Pope, increasingly a man in a hurry, Christians must be willing to leave their comfort zones. For Francis, this was a high-risk, high-reward trip, which saw him walk a diplomatic and religious tightrope in a tense and divided country that has seen both a political revolution and a military coup in the last six years.

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