Pope Francis speaking after his weekly Angelus prayer in Saint Peter’s Square, condemned the attack by Islamists on two Coptic Churches in Egypt that killed at least 40 and injured more than 100 people. The Pope prayed that the Lord “convert the hearts of the people who are sowing terror, violence and death, and also the hearts of those who make and traffic weapons.”
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, with ISIS official news outlet Amaq aying: “Islamic State squads carried out the attacks on two churches in Tanta and Alexandria.”
The First attack was in Tanta at the Mar Girgis (Saint George) Coptic Church where at least 26 were killed and more than 70 were wounded. The second attack took place in front of St. Mark’s Church in Alexandria which killed at least 11 people and injuring more than 30 as reported by Egypt’s Health Ministry.
Pope Francis expressed sorrow for the head of the Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros and sympathizes with the Egyptian people. He said: “To my dear brother, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, to the Coptic Church and to all the dear Egyptian nation I express my deep condolences. I pray for the dead and the injured, and I am close in spirit to the family members and to the entire community.”
Palm Sunday for Christians, marks the beginning of the Holy week and it commemorates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem days before his crucifixion. Religious feasts such as these are the prime targets of jihadists to underscore the religious nature of their campaign.
Islamic State operating in Egypt has recently released a propaganda video that indicates that they would be eliminating Christians in Egypt and to “liberate Cairo.”
The Pope is scheduled to visit Cairo from April 28-29.