By Seàn-Patrick Lovett
Nine people were killed in two separate attacks on the Coptic Christian community in Cairo last Friday. The so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility for both.
Conversion of “violent hearts”
After reciting the Angelus prayer in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, Pope Francis expressed his “closeness to the Coptic Orthodox” and prayed for the dead, the wounded and the whole community. He also prayed especially for the conversion of what he called “all violent hearts.”
In 2017 alone, over 100 Christians were killed in Egypt as a result of terrorist attacks, most of which were claimed by local IS militants.
Feast of the Holy Family
This Sunday is also the Feast of the Holy Family. Reflecting on St Luke’s description of Jesus’ presentation in the temple, the Pope stressed how Mary and Joseph go to the temple in a gesture that certifies how “the child belongs to God and that they are the guardians of his life and not the owners.” Every family, he said, is called to protect and educate children so they can be “open to God.”
Prophetic words of Simeon
Pope Francis quoted the elderly priest, Simeon, who spoke of the Christ Child as being “a sign of contradiction”. Jesus came “to bring down the false images we make of God and ourselves,” said the Pope. Whenever families “return to the source of Christian experience, new paths and unimagined possibilities open up,” he concluded.
Following the Angelus, Pope Francis had special greetings for families, both those present in St Peter’s Square and those following the midday prayer from home.
Full text of Pope’s comments after the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
I express my closeness to the Coptic Orthodox brothers of Egypt, struck two days ago by two attacks on a church and a shop in the suburbs of Cairo. May the Lord welcome the souls of the dead, comfort the wounded, their families and the whole community, and convert all violent hearts.
Today I address a special greeting to the families present here, and also to those who are participating from home. May the Holy Family bless you and guide you on your journey.
I greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims; in particular, parish groups, associations and young people. Let us not forget on this day to thank God for the past year and for all the good things we have received. It will do us good to remember. Because today is a day of thanksgiving.
I wish everyone a happy Sunday and a peaceful end of the year. I thank you again for your wishes and your prayers: please continue to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and arrivederci!