Pope preaches peace, surrounded by reminders of conflict

8 May 2017
Pope Francis waves as he arrives to celebrate Mass for Egypt's tiny Catholic community, at the Air Defense Stadium in Cairo, Saturday, April 29, 2017. Image: AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia.
Saying Mass in a soccer stadium owned and operated by the all-powerful Egyptian army, and surrounded by thick security protocols, Pope Francis on Saturday continued his campaign for peace in a country often torn by political and religious conflict, insisting that the only fanaticism pleasing to God is that of fanaticism about charity.

CAIRO, Egypt – Pope Francis continued his campaign on Saturday to promote tolerance and pluralism in a land, and a region, which is frequently scarred by religious violence and extremism, telling Egyptians that “the only fanaticism believers can have is that of charity!

“Any other fanaticism does not come from God, and is not pleasing to him!” Francis insisted while saying a Mass in a downtown Cairo stadium.

“True faith is one that makes us more charitable, more merciful, more honest and more humane,” the pope said. “It moves our hearts to love everyone without counting the cost, without distinction and without preference. It makes us see the other not as an enemy to be overcome, but a brother or sister to be loved, served and helped.

“Do not be afraid to love everyone, friends and enemies alike, because the strength and treasure of the believer lies in a life of love!” Francis said.

The very setting of the day’s liturgy, however, offered a reminder of how far the reality in contemporary Egypt, the world’s sixth most populous Islamic nation and a cornerstone for the entire Middle East, often lies from the pontiff’s pacific vision.

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