VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has told the Egyptian people he is coming to Cairo this week as a friend and a "messenger of peace."
In a videotaped message released on Tuesday, Francis also says he hopes the pilgrimage will "be an embrace of consolation and of encouragement to all Christians in the Middle East."
Twin bombings of Coptic Christian churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday this month killed 44 people.
Francis departs for Cairo on Friday and returns on Saturday.
He wished the "dear people of Egypt" peace and said he was coming "with a joyful and grateful heart."
Francis expressed hope that his trip might also "offer a valid contribution to interreligious dialogue with the Islamic world, and to ecumenical dialogue with the venerated and beloved Coptic Orthodox Church."