By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis has sent a video message on the occasion of the inauguration of the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria in Egypt, the biggest church in the Middle East. Located in the territory of what will be the administrative capital of Egypt, in a desert area about 45 km east of Cairo, the cathedral was inaugurated on Sunday, January 6, the eve of Coptic Christmas.
“May the Prince of Peace give Egypt, the Middle East and the whole world the gift of peace and prosperity,” Pope Francis said in Italian in the video message screened in the presence of Patriarch Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and other authorities.
The Holy Father thanked Coptic Christians for their testimony of faith and love, including martyrdom.
The first Mass in the new cathedral was held under heavy security, a day after a bomb blast near a Coptic church in Nasr City in which a policeman died trying to defuse an explosive device. The church suffered no serious damage.
"We are one and we will remain one," said El-Sisi who also inaugurated the Al-Fattah Al-Aleem mosque the same day.
The Cathedral of the Nativity can accommodate some 8,000 worshippers and the mosque almost twice that number.
Below is the official translation of the Pope’s video message:
Dear brothers and sisters, I wish you a good Christmas and a happy new year!
May the Prince of Peace gives Egypt, the Middle East and the whole world the gift of peace and prosperity.
I address a special greeting to my dear brother His Holiness Pope Tawadros II and to the dear Coptic Orthodox Church, which has been able to give a true testimony of faith and love even in the most difficult moments.
Dear brothers and sisters, you have martyrs who give strength to your faith. Thank you for your example.
I address a respectful greeting to the Egyptian government and to
In the new Cathedral may the worship of God on high always be welcome, and may there descend His blessing and peace on earth for all men, whom God loves.