By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Accepting an invitation from Egypt’s president and top religious leaders, Pope Francis will visit Cairo April 28-29.
In response to an invitation from President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the Catholic bishops in Egypt, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II and Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar University, “Pope Francis will make an apostolic trip to the Arab Republic of Egypt,” the Vatican announced.
While saying details of the trip would be published soon, the announcement said the two-day trip would be focused on Cairo, the capital city.
It will be the pope’s 18th trip abroad in his four years as pope and the seventh time he visits a Muslim-majority nation. He will be the second pope to visit Egypt after St. John Paul II went to Cairo and Mount Sinai in 2000.
The invitation came amid increasingly closer relations between the Vatican and al-Azhar, which is considered the most authoritative theological-academic institution of Sunni Islam.
El-Tayeb visited the pope at the Vatican in May 2016 – the first time the grand imam of al-Azhar was received by the pope in a private meeting at the Vatican.