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Pope Francis celebrates Mass in packed Cairo stadium


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.