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Pope Francis to visit Egypt in April

Pope Francis meets with the grand imam Sheik Ahmed Muhammad Al Tayyib at the Vatican May 23 2016. Photo credit: LOsservatore Romano CNA

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Vatican City, Mar 18, 2017 CNA/EWTN News.- In what will be his first international trip of the year, Pope Francis will be traveling to Egypt, to the city of Cairo, April 28 and 29, the Vatican announced Saturday.

He will visit the country in response to an invitation from His Holiness Pope Tawadros II and the Grand Imam of the Mosque of al Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayyib, as well as Egypt's president and the bishops of the local Catholic Church, the March 18 Vatican communique stated.

While the full program for the Pope's the trip will be published shortly, he will almost certainly visit Al-Azhar University in Cairo, which he has recently partnered with amid thawing Vatican-Egypt relations to help combat the issue of religious justification for violence.

The Pope’s trip will likely focus largely on inter-faith dialogue and Catholic-Muslim relations – especially in combating Christian persecution – continuing dialogue from a seminar Vatican officials attended in February.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, along with the council's secretary and the head of their Office for Islam, traveled to Cairo Feb. 24 to participate in the special seminar at Al-Azhar University.

They discussed the theme “The role of al-Azhar al-Sharif and of the Vatican in countering the phenomena of fanaticism, extremism and violence in the name of religion.”

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