Europe

In Egypt, pope seeks Christian-Muslim rejection of violence

  • A billboard welcomes Pope Francis, at St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, April 27, 2017. On Friday, Francis is scheduled to begin a two-day pilgrimage to Egypt aimed at lifting the spirits of Christians in the Middle East, whose numbers have rapidly dwindled in recent decades due to war, displacement and emigration. The visit will include a meeting with Egypt's president and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar as well as a Mass in a stadium on the outskirts of Cairo. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

    A billboard welcomes Pope Francis, at St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, April 27, 2017. On Friday, Francis is scheduled to begin a two-day pilgrimage to Egypt aimed at lifting the spirits of Christians in the Middle East, whose numbers have rapidly dwindled in recent decades due to war, displacement and emigration. The visit will include a meeting with Egypt's president and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar as well as a Mass in a stadium on the outskirts of Cairo. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)  (The Associated Press)

  • A billboard welcomes Pope Francis, in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, April 27, 2017. On Friday, Francis is scheduled to begin a two-day pilgrimage to Egypt aimed at lifting the spirits of Christians in the Middle East, whose numbers have rapidly dwindled in recent decades due to war, displacement and emigration. The visit will include a meeting with Egypt's president and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar as well as a Mass in a stadium on the outskirts of Cairo. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

    A billboard welcomes Pope Francis, in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, April 27, 2017. On Friday, Francis is scheduled to begin a two-day pilgrimage to Egypt aimed at lifting the spirits of Christians in the Middle East, whose numbers have rapidly dwindled in recent decades due to war, displacement and emigration. The visit will include a meeting with Egypt's president and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar as well as a Mass in a stadium on the outskirts of Cairo. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)  (The Associated Press)

  • A billboard reading, Pope of Peace," welcomes Pope Francis, in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, April 27, 2017. On Friday, Francis is scheduled to begin a two-day pilgrimage to Egypt aimed at lifting the spirits of Christians in the Middle East, whose numbers have rapidly dwindled in recent decades due to war, displacement and emigration. The visit will include a meeting with Egypt's president and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar as well as a Mass in a stadium on the outskirts of Cairo. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

    A billboard reading, Pope of Peace," welcomes Pope Francis, in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, April 27, 2017. On Friday, Francis is scheduled to begin a two-day pilgrimage to Egypt aimed at lifting the spirits of Christians in the Middle East, whose numbers have rapidly dwindled in recent decades due to war, displacement and emigration. The visit will include a meeting with Egypt's president and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar as well as a Mass in a stadium on the outskirts of Cairo. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)  (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis is brushing off security concerns to forge ahead with a two-day trip to Egypt aimed at presenting a united Christian-Muslim front that repudiates violence committed in God's name.

Three weeks after Islamic militants staged twin Palm Sunday church attacks, Francis lands in Cairo on Friday for a series of deeply symbolic encounters with Egypt's religious and political leadership. He will meet with Egypt's president, patriarch and the "other" pope, Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and pray for victims of the attacks.

Most importantly, he will also visit Al-Azhar, the revered 1,000-year-old seat of learning in Sunni Islam. There, he will meet privately with grand imam Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, and participate in an international peace conference Friday afternoon.