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Pope calls to express condolences after Cairo church attack

12 December 2016 | by Catholic News Service

Four people, including one woman, have been arrested for alleged involvement in the attack on the church

"We are united in the blood of our martyrs," the Pope said in a phone call to the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church after a terrorist attack killed 25 people in Cairo on Sunday.

According to a statement released by the Vatican, Pope Francis phoned Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria today, expressing his prayers and condolences.

The patriarch thanked Francis for his closeness at such a sad time and asked for his continued prayers for the Copts and for peace in Egypt, the statement said.

On a December weekend bloodied by terrorist attacks in Egypt and Turkey, Pope Francis condemned the violence and urged people to hold fast to their faith and renew their commitment to upholding basic human values.

After reciting the Angelus at Mass on Sunday, he offered prayers for the "victims of savage terrorist attacks" in Egypt and in Istanbul, where close to 40 people, mainly police, were killed.

"The places are different, but the violence is the same," the Pope said. In response to the "death and destruction," there is only one response: "Faith in God and unity in human and civil values."

Meanwhile Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, responded to the attack, saying: “Yesterday we saw beautiful lives lost, families separated and broken, and whole communities grieving; a truly painful time that has not only affected Coptic Christians, but Egyptian society at large, Muslims and Christians alike, and millions around the world.”

“To the perpetrators of this heinous crime, their lives clearly held no greater value than scribbles on a strategic page; a plan that was to be executed for a cause to which they were merely incidental, collateral damage.”

He said acts of violence against Christians in Egypt were increasing and there was a need for “accountability” and for perpetrators to be “fairly held to account”.

Egyptian Catholics were also quick to condemn Sunday's church attack. "Our heart is with Patriarch Tawadros II ... and our brother church, and we wish for goodness in Egypt, and call on the heads of state to quickly bring those responsible to justice," said official spokesman of Egypt's Catholics, Father Rafic Greiche.

Father Greiche called the attack "a cowardly, terrorist act on a house of God," adding that "the church in our country is suffering due to the murder and spilling of blood of innocents".

His statements appeared on Church of Alexandria, an official website of Egypt's Coptic Catholic Church, which accounts for a tiny percentage of the country's larger Coptic Orthodox minority.

In an address at the funeral for victims of the attack, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called for three days of mourning.

He said a 22-year-old suicide bomber was behind the attack. The president also said four people, including one woman, had been arrested, for alleged involvement, and that two more people were being sought.



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