Visitors from the Geneva offices of the World Council of Churches (WCC) were received in Cairo, Egypt on Saturday 8 January 2011 by Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the WCC, led the group to Cairo in order to offer personal condolences in the aftermath of the lethal bomb attack at the New Year on a church in Alexandria.
Tveit expressed the sympathy and support of the WCC member churches to Pope Shenouda at this difficult time for Egypt. He gave his assurance that the fellowship of churches was united in prayer for the Coptic Orthodox Church and for all the people of Egypt.
The WCC General Secretary spoke of the cross as a symbol of solidarity shared by Christians around the world. “The cross serves as a reminder of the suffering borne in human life, and of Christ’s death on the cross, yet as a Christian emblem it also points toward resurrection, reconciliation and peace,” Tveit said.
In his message for Christmas, which the Coptic Orthodox celebrated on 7 January, Pope Shenouda focused on the love and peace of God towards everyone. “It is encouraging to see how his message inspired both Christians and Muslims to stand together against violence and attempts at dividing the people” Tveit said. “Pope Shenouda demonstrates that when spiritual leadership is done well, it can have tremendous influence in making peace.”
Pope Shenouda stressed the importance of prayer to God, and the need for solidarity among all people.
Tveit was accompanied from Geneva to Cairo by WCC director of programmes Rev Dr Hielke Wolters and the programme executive for Christian-Muslim dialogue, Rima Barsoum.