Pope Holds Mass In Cairo Pope Francis celebrated Roman Catholic Mass on Saturday in a stadium in Cairo, Egypt. His visit is part of an effort to strengthen relations with the Muslim world, and to support Coptic Christians.
NPR logo

Pope Holds Mass In Cairo

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/526158014/526158015" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Pope Holds Mass In Cairo

Pope Holds Mass In Cairo

Pope Holds Mass In Cairo

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/526158014/526158015" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Pope Francis celebrated Roman Catholic Mass on Saturday in a stadium in Cairo, Egypt. His visit is part of an effort to strengthen relations with the Muslim world, and to support Coptic Christians.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Pope Francis wound up his two-day visit to Egypt today. He celebrated mass for the country's small Catholic community. In a sign of heightened security concerns, the religious service was held in a military stadium. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELLS)

SYLVIA POGGIOLI, BYLINE: In his homily, the pope stuck to the basic theme of his visit - his strong belief that only Christian-Muslim dialogue can combat extremism and violence. All our religiosity, he said, means nothing unless it's inspired by deep faith and charity.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

POPE FRANCIS: (Speaking Italian).

POGGIOLI: True faith, the pope said, makes us see the other not as an enemy to be overcome but a brother or sister to be loved and helped. And it leads us to protect the rights of others with the same zeal and enthusiasm as we defend our own. The only fanaticism believers can have, the pope added, is that of charity. The trip's main event was the visit to Al-Azhar University, an important center of learning for Sunni Islam. Francis warmly embraced the grand imam and made an urgent appeal for leaders of all faiths to reject violence and denounce intolerance.

The trip came three weeks after Islamic militants carried out suicide bombings in Coptic churches that killed more than 40 people, prompting the government to declare a state of emergency and increase police powers. In his meeting with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the pope backed his crackdown against terrorism, but in a clear reference to activists' many denunciations of repressive government tactics, Francis made some critical remarks, demanding unconditional respect for inalienable human rights, such as equality among all citizens, religious freedom and freedom of expression, without any distinction. Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Cairo.

(SOUNDBITE OF MELODIUM'S "CHOANAL IMPERFORATION")

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.