Pope Francis calls for 'watered down' United Nations to reassert leadership

Pope Francis stands next to Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb the Grand Imam of Al Azhar

While Egypt has escaped the sort of sectarian violence that has decimated ancient Christian communities in Syria and Iraq, it is under threat from Islamic State militants who launched a campaign in December to wipe out Egypt's Christians, carrying out three church attacks that have killed more than 70 people.

"True faith... moves our heart to love everyone... And I can tell you also I don't believe that the president of China, who is a very respected man, will be happy either".

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.

Francis visited the Cairo church bombed in December alongside Coptic Pope Tawadros II to pray for the 28 people killed in a Christmas season blast past year and lay flowers in their memory.

The Pope later met with members of Egypt's small Coptic Catholic community at St. Leo's Patriarchal Seminary in Cairo's Maadi neighborhood.

Inside a choir sang "Hallelujah, Hallelujah" as the smiling pontiff entered and circled on a golf cart, waving to the crowds who released yellow and white balloons, the colours of the Vatican flag.

The attacks led to heightened security at churches nationwide and the declaration by el-Sissi of a state of emergency.

As he has on other occasions, Francis called for ecumenical relations rooted in friendship and common efforts, rather than a merely abstract theological dialogue - a "static ecumenism", he said, "doesn't go anywhere".

"It's unlikely it will ever happen again", he said.

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Pope Francis said Saturday he worries that rising tensions between the United States and North Korea could lead to a wide military conflict that would wipe out a "large part of humanity".

The visit was conducted under very strict security scrutiny, especially in Heliopolis, the venue of the airport and the presidential palace, and Zamalek, the residence of the ambassador of the Vatican, where the Pope stayed during his 27-hour visit.

The unusual choice of venue for Saturday's religious service highlights the security concerns surrounding the trip.

The visit comes after the two blasts at the Tanta and Alexandria churches during Palm Sunday celebrations earlier this month, which left around 46 people killed and dozens injured.

And at every stop on his first day, he issued variations on the same hard-hitting theme: "No civilized society can be built without repudiating every ideology of evil, violence and extremism that presumes to suppress others and to annihilate diversity by manipulating and profaning the sacred name of God".

He criticized what he called "demagogic forms of populism... on the rise", saying they were unhelpful to peace. El-Sissi has been criticized for human rights offenses and stifling free press in the country. The country is predominately Muslim, with Christianity, including Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, and Catholics, making up only 10 percent of the population.

The historic signing of an agreement to jointly recognise the baptism of Christians by both churches offered good news to Egyptian Christians who were pleased at the rapprochement between the leading churches.

Francis also shared the tidbit that Tawadros is "among the most fanatical, as I am", about the quest to find a common date for Easter among Orthodox and Catholic Christians.

The visit was the first by Francis to Cairo, but the second by a Catholic pope after John Paul II visited Egypt in 2000.

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