April 29 (UPI) — Pope Francis preached a message promoting unity, tolerance and non-violence during a mass at a stadium in Egypt Saturday.
The pope addressed the crowd of about 15,000 people at Cairo’s Air Defense Stadium with the traditional Muslim greeting “As-Salaam Alaikum” or “Peace be upon you” as he stressed the fanaticism of charity and how it allows opposing sides to come together as one.
“Any other type of fanaticism does not come from God, and is not pleasing to him,” he said. “True faith is one that makes us more charitable, more merciful, more honest and more humane…it makes us see the other not as an enemy to be overcome but a brother or sister to be loved, served and helped.”
Francis arrived in Egypt Friday for a two-day trip to show support for the country’s Coptic Christian minority and heal the divide between Christians and Muslims.
His visit took place three weeks after 45 people were killed when explosions targeted two Coptic churches as Christians celebrated Palm Sunday.
Heavy security surrounded the Pope as he entered the stadium in an open-topped golf cart as military and police filled the crowd. Two military helicopters circled the area and authorities checked for explosives.
Francis stressed unity between Muslims and Christians to end violence and promote world peace as he spoke at a peace conference at Al-Azhar University on Friday.
“Let us say once more a firm and clear ‘No!’ to every form of violence, vengeance and hatred carried out in the name of religion or in the name of God,” he said.
He also met with Pope Tawadros II, leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, to sign a joint 12-point declaration reinforcing the bond between their churches.
“Let us intensify our unceasing prayer for all Christians in Egypt and throughout the whole world, and especially in the Middle East,” the declaration said.