.- In the wake of the drive-by shooting and killing of several Coptic Christians and a police officer, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, is offering his prayers for the slain.
The Italian SIR news agency reported that the president of the Papal Council for the Unity of Christians, Cardinal Walter Kasper, expressed his sympathy to the community in a letter addressed to Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark.
The cardinal wrote that it was "with sadness" that he "learned of the terrible news of the death and wounding of many Coptic Christians after Midnight Mass at Christmas... ."
In the Coptic tradition, Christmas is celebrated on January 7.
Kasper communicated solidarity and assured the Coptic leader of his prayers for him and his Coptic Christian flock.
"Every time our Christians suffer unfairly, it is a wound in Christ’s Body, in which all believers live. Together we share this sadness and together we pray for recovery, peace and justice.
"All Christians must keep together before oppression and look together for the peace that only Christ can give. I pray for the peaceful repose of the souls of the dead and for the recovery of the wounded, as well as for the comfort of the victims’ relatives."
The Holy See's apostolic nuncio to Egypt, Msgr. Michael Fitzgerald, was also cited by SIR as attributing the incident to current "tensions," pointing out that similar stories are not uncommon.
"These acts of violence happen quite frequently and this means the situation is not as rosy as the authorities would like to make it look," said the diplomat, who is also the Vatican's representative to the Organization of the League of Arab States.
Fitzgerald added that the reason for the attack remains unknown. Some news reports linked the shooting to the alleged rape of a 12-year-old Muslim girl by a Christian man.
According to the nuncio, at this point in time a resolution to the recent escalation in violence should be focused on efforts to build mutual trust between the religious groups. He added, "It is a work that paves the way to dialogue.”