VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis phoned Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, Egypt, Dec. 12, expressing his prayers and condolences for the previous day’s terrorist attack at the Cairo cathedral that left 25 people dead.
“We are united in the blood of our martyrs,” the pope told the Orthodox patriarch.
The patriarch thanked Pope Francis for his closeness at such a sad time and asked his continued prayers for the Copts and for peace in Egypt.
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 Dec. 11, Pope Francis offered prayers for the “victims of savage terrorist attacks” in Egypt, which also wounded dozens, and Dec. 10 in Istanbul, which killed close to 40 people, mainly police.
“The places are different, but the violence is the same,” Pope Francis said. In response to the “death and destruction,” there is only one response: “faith in God and unity in human and civil values.”
The pope also told the crowd in St. Peter’s Square that each day in prayer he is close to the people of the besieged city of Aleppo, Syria.
“We must not forget that Aleppo is a city and that there are people there: families, children, elderly, sick,” he said. “Unfortunately we have become used to the war and destruction, but we must not forget that Syria is a country full of history, culture and faith. We cannot allow this to be negated by war, which is a pile of abuse and falsity.”
Around the world, Christians reacted to the bombing at St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral complex with messages of condolences.
In Washington, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Texas, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, noted that St. Mark himself was no stranger to the persecution of Christians.
“Those who gathered to worship the Lord at his cathedral this morning in Cairo are family to us,” he said. “We draw near to our Coptic brothers and sisters in prayer, sorrow and comfort. And we are confident in the healing power of our Lord Jesus Christ. The lives lost strengthen the faith of Christians everywhere and offer a testament to the great privilege of worshiping God in peace.”