Vatican City, Feb 14, 2017 / 00:08 am
A special invitation to visit Egypt was delivered to Pope Francis by Coptic Catholic bishops during their ad limina visit Feb. 6, during which they also gave a report on the state of the Church in their country.
“It was a formal invitation put in written form, that followed other invitations to Egypt,” Bishop Emmanuel Bishay of Luxor told CNA.
The Pope has also received an invitation to visit Egypt from the country’s president and from the Grand Imam of al Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, who occupies a prestigious place in the Sunni Muslim world.
It is widely speculated that the Pope might go to South Sudan in November. There is a possibility he could use the occasion for a longer trip, with a stop in Egypt.
Bishop Bishay was one of the bishops who took part in the meeting with the Pope. The bishop, who is a former official at the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, described the meeting as “marvelous.”
“Previously, ad limina visits included a papal speech that gave the highlights of the situation of the country and provided recommendations. But now there are no more speeches, and each of us was invited to freely speak about the situation in his diocese,” Bishop Bishay recounted.
He said the Pope welcomed Egypt’s Catholic bishops.
“It reminded me of that passage of the Gospel when Jesus sent the apostles to make disciples, and, when they are back, asks them to tell their experience,” the bishop said.
Bishop Bishay said that the bishops, beyond the particular issues of each diocese, talked about the fruits of the Catholic Church’s Year of Mercy and about the daily life of the Church in Egypt.
The Pope “encouraged us to carry on our mission in the Church and at the service of Egyptian society, with a particular reference to education and dialogue,” the bishop reported.
In the Coptic Eparchy of Luxor, education is a major concern.