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Pope Francis celebrates Mass in packed Cairo stadium


2017-04-30

Pope Francis has celebrated Mass in Cairo for about 15,000 believers on the final day of his visit to Egypt.

The worshippers gathered in a stadium, waving flags and releasing balloons as the Pope made his entrance.

His visit comes three weeks after the so-called Islamic State killed at least 45 people at two Egyptian churches.

The Pope has used the visit to build ties with Muslim leaders and appeal for religious freedom.

For a Christian community that has felt under siege, and for a nation in the midst of three-month state of emergency, the Mass was a rare opportunity to worship and celebrate in the open-air at Cairo’s Air Defence Stadium.

Pope Francis, who was rapturously welcomed, circuited the stadium in an unprotected “popemobile” before progressing with a large group of local clerics toward the stage.

Pope Francis has laid down a challenge to both Christians and Muslims in Egypt to be fanatical about their faith, but in a way that leads only to engagement and compassion.