The Latest: Pope leaves Cairo stadium after Mass

0
68


CAIRO (AP) — The Latest on Pope Francis' visit to Egypt (all times local):

12:05 p.m.

Pope Francis is leaving a military run stadium in Cairo where he led Mass for some 15,000 Egyptian Catholics on the second and final day of a historic visit to Egypt, where Christians have been targeted by Islamic militants.

The Mass was conducted in Latin, Italian and Arabic amid scenes of jubilation and tight security, with police out in force and helicopters hovering over the site.

Members of the congregation waved Holy See and Egyptian flags and swayed to the music of hymns.

Children in ancient Egyptian costumes lined up in front of the makeshift altar in the middle of the grass pitch.

The Pope's visit to mainly Muslim Egypt is meant in part to comfort Egypt's Christians following a spate of deadly attacks against them by Islamic militants.

___

10:55 a.m.

Pope Francis is urging Egypt's tiny Catholic community to be good and merciful to their fellow Egyptians, saying "the only fanaticism believers can have is that of charity!"

Francis made the comments during Mass on Saturday at the Air Defense Stadium in Cairo on the second and final day of his quick trip to Egypt. On Friday, he comforted Egypt's Christian community after a spate of attacks by Islamic militants, and demanded that Muslim leaders renounce religious fanaticism that leads to violence.

Francis offered a more pastoral tone Saturday in meeting with his own Catholic flock, who number around 250,000. In his homily, he urged them to not be hypocritical in their faith.

He said: "God is pleased only by a faith that is proclaimed by our lives, for the only fanaticism believers can have is that of charity!"

___

10:10 a.m.

Pope Francis is leading Mass at a military-run stadium in Cairo with at least 10,000 Egyptian Catholics in attendance amid tight security, including helicopters hovering over the suburban facility.

The Saturday Mass is being held on the second and final day of a historic visit to Egypt by the Catholic pontiff, who came to the Muslim majority Arab nation to forge a united Christian-Muslim front against religious militancy and lift the spirits of Egypt's Christians after a spate of deadly attacks against their churches in December and earlier this month.

The atmosphere at the June 30 stadium was cheerful, with members of the congregation swaying to hymns sung by church choruses and waving Egyptian and Vatican flags. Others held yellow balloons, the color of the Vatican flag.

___

9:40 a.m.

Pope Francis has arrived at a military run stadium in an eastern Cairo suburb to lead Mass on his second day of a historic visit to Egypt.

The Catholic pontiff arrived in a simple blue Fiat, with his window rolled down, a contrast to the tight security in place for his two-day visit.

Organizers say some 25,000 Egyptian Catholics are attending the Mass. Many of them held yellow balloons, the color of the Vatican's flag.

Others waved the yellow-and-white Vatican flags as he rode in an open-roofed golf cart around the stadium after his arrival.

The pope's visit is primarily aimed at forging a united Christian-Islamic front against religious militancy.

Catholics are a tiny minority of Egypt's estimated nine million Christians, who are mostly Orthodox.

___

9 a.m.

Security is exceptionally tight around Cairo and the sports stadium where Pope Francis will celebrate Mass for Egypt's tiny Catholic community.

Both uniformed and plain-clothed police were stationed every meter (yard) or so along Francis' motorcade route on Saturday, and cars and taxis were prevented from stopping. At the stadium, police used metal detectors to check vehicles for explosives. Others stood guard, some on rooftops, their faces covered.

Francis decided to forego the bullet-proof "popemobile" that his predecessors used on foreign trips and drove through Cairo in a simple Fiat. Once in the stadium he plans to greet the crowd in an open golf cart, a reflection of his desire to be close to his flock.

The Air Defense Stadium is part of the defense ministry's sports village.

__

7:30 a.m.

Pope Francis will celebrate Mass for Egypt's tiny Catholic community and meet with its priests and seminarians before returning to Rome.

Local media reports say at least 25,000 are expected at Saturday's Mass in Cairo, which comes on the second day of Francis' two-day trip to the Arab world's most populous country

Francis on Friday urged Egypt's Muslim leaders teach a rejection of violence in God's name during the delicate visit and he strongly backed its uncompromising crackdown on political Islam and militancy.

His main event was a landmark visit to Cairo's Al-Azhar, the revered, 1,000-year-old seat of Sunni Islam learning that trains clerics and scholars from around the world. He also met with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.