Cairo: Pope Francis has condemned the terror attack on a Coptic church dedicated to St. George – Mar Girgis – in the city of Tanta, north of Cairo, which killed at least 21 people and injured nearly 60 others.
“We pray for the victims claimed this Sunday morning,” Vatican Radio quoted Pope Francis as saying in remarks to the people gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray the Angelus with him following Palm Sunday Mass.
“To my dear brother, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II,” Pope Francis continued, “to the Coptic Church and to all the dear Egyptian nation I express my deep condolences. I pray for the dead and the injured, and I am close in spirit to the family members [of the deceased and injured] and to the entire community,” he said.
Pope Francis went on to pray, “May the Lord convert the hearts of the people who are sowing terror, violence and death, and also the hearts of those who make and traffic weapons.”
He is scheduled to visit Cairo at the end of this month.
Today’s attack is the latest in a series of assaults on Egypt’s Christian minority, which makes up around 10 percent of the population of 92 million and has been repeatedly targeted by the Islamic extremists.
In December last year, 25 people were killed by a suicide bombing at Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral. The ISIS later claimed responsibility for the blast.