God rejects fanaticism, says Pope at Cairo mass

Indo Asian News Service

Cairo, April 29 (IANS) Pope Francis warned against religious fanaticism and sent a message of tolerance and co-existence as he celebrated a mass at a stadium in Cairo on Saturday.

"God is pleased only by a faith that professes its love for life, for the only fanaticism believers must profess is that of charity," the Pontiff said.

"Any other fanaticism does not come from God and does not please him," he said at the mass attended by tens of thousands of people at Cairo's Air Defence Stadium.

The Pope was in Egypt on a two-day trip designed to forge Muslim-Christian brotherhood and show solidarity with the country's persecuted Coptic Christian minority, Efe news reported.

His visit to the North African country came nearly two weeks after the Palm Sunday bombing of two Coptic churches, which left at least 46 people dead.

The assaults were later claimed by the Islamic State (IS) terror organisation.

A Vatican spokesman said 15,000 people attended the mass at the stadium, which holds 30,000.

The Pope started his Mass with the "As-Salaam Alaikum," the traditional Muslim greeting in Arabic that means "Peace be upon you," and ended it with "al-Masih qam! Bi-l-haqiqa qam! (Christ is risen! He is truly risen)".

The mass was held amid strict security measures to try and deter any attacks by Islamist radicals.

The Pope urged people not to be afraid "to love everyone, friends and enemies alike" since the genuine strength and treasure of believers resides in their "love of life".

Before the mass began, the Pontiff greeted the attendees from a golf cart that went around the stadium, where some 25,000 people came to greet him, according to the Egyptian official news agency MENA.

"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 considering the cost, without distinction and without preference," the Pontiff added.

He insisted in his message of peace that faith "makes us see the other not as an enemy to be overcome, but a brother or sister to be loved, served and helped".

The Pope was expected to visit Egypt's small Catholic community later Saturday.

--IANS

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