Later in the winter, several more were killed in a series of murders in Egypt’s Sinai region, and ISIS affiliates there claimed responsibility. Hundreds fled their homes in the face of the violence.
Then on Palm Sunday, 45 were killed in two separate attacks on Masses: A bomb was detonated inside St. George’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Tanta, which killed 28, while a suicide bomber detonated outside of St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria – where the Patriarch of Alexandria Pope Tawadros II was saying Mass – killed 17 including himself.
Egypt’s president Abdul Fattah el-Sisi declared a three-month state of emergency following the April 9 attacks, and Friday’s attack fell within the time frame.
A checkpoint near St. Catherine’s monastery in the Sinai region was also attacked in April, resulting in one dead and four injured. ISIS claimed responsibility for that attack.
Church leaders offered prayers following the May 26 attack.
A Vatican telegram offered the condolences of Pope Francis.
“Deeply saddened to learn of the barbaric attack in central Egypt and of the tragic loss of life and injury caused by this senseless act of hatred, Pope Francis expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this violent outrage,” the telegram said.
“He assures their grieving families and all who have been injured of his ardent prayers, and he pledges his continued intercession for peace and reconciliation throughout the nation.”
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Va. said in a statement that he is once again “deeply saddened by news of violence against innocent people of faith.”
“This attack reminds us again of the horrific persecution of our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East and their courageous witness to their faith,” he continued. “I ask that all the faithful in the Diocese of Arlington and people of good will join me in prayer for the victims of today’s attack.”
He asked for the intercession of Mary, Queen of Peace, “for an end to violence and religious persecution throughout the world.”
Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C., blogged about the attacks, saying, “Our response to this most recent atrocity is to turn to our Lord Jesus Christ, whose eternal love triumphs over suffering and evil and turns the darkness of death into the dawn of new life.”
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
“(W)e are all one human family. We are all in this together and we must all stand together in solidarity against such violence and evil,” he said, stressing that while we may be tempted to think that our efforts at change are futile, “we can look for opportunities to speak out, to awaken consciences and urge a change of heart.”
“At the very least, we can persevere in prayer,” the cardinal said. “Let us pray for the gifts of the Spirit to strengthen us and also to touch the hearts of all to stop the violence and so that toleration and genuine peace reigns in every land.”
Editor's note: Updated with reactions from Church leaders.