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A journey of unity and brotherhood

· Pope Francis in Egypt and in a Message to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences points to a new regulating principle of economic order ·

“A journey of unity, of brotherhood”. Pope Francis thusly defined his visit to Egypt, as he greeted journalists during the direct flight on Friday morning, 28 April, to Cairo, which landed in the early afternoon. The Pontiff emphasized the special nature of the journey, which had come about in response to invitations from four different political and religious leaders (the President of the Egyptian Republic, the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, the Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar), thus giving a particular expectation to the journey. Francis noted that while the visit would last less than two days, the schedule would be rather dense. The Pope thanked the journalists for what was to expected be a demanding job aimed at helping many people to understand the visit, to know what would be taking place and what would be spoken about.

After departing from the Rome-Ciampino airport, the Pontiff’s flight landed at around 2:00 PM in the Egyptian capital and, after being welcomed at the airport, Pope Francis went to the Presidential Palace for the welcome ceremony and a visit with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. He then went on to Al-Azhar, for the first day’s central event: a meeting with participants in the International Peace Conference, to whom Francis delivered an address after a private meeting with the Grand Imam. Afterwards, he greeted the country’s political and diplomatic authorities and then met with Tawadros II at the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate. Francis and Tawadros II then participated in an ecumenical prayer service in the Church of Saint Peter ‘Al Boutrosiyya’, in the presence of representatives of other Christian confessions.

The theme of brotherhood, one of the primary motivations for the visit to Egypt, was also at the centre of the Pontiff’s message addressed that same day to participants in the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, whose meeting focused on the question of integration in a participatory society. In an essentially social sense, the concept of brotherhood, according to Pope Francis, is the true “regulating principle of economic order”. In fact it complements and exalts the principle of solidarity, because, while the latter allows those who are unequal to to become equal, brotherhood allows those who are equal to be different. 

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