Four days after the deadly fire during Sunday Divine Liturgy in Cairo’s Abu Sifine Church, Pope Francis has expressed his “condolences and spiritual closeness” to those affected by the tragedy that left at least 41 people dead, the Holy See Press Office reported on August 18, 2022.
“Pope Francis was deeply saddened when he was informed of the recent fire at the Abu Sifine Church that caused the death of so many people, including a number of children and Archbishop Abdul Bahkit,” details the telegram signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and sent to Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II.
Pope Francis entrusts the victims of this tragedy and their families “to the merciful love of Almighty God and invokes on all of them consolation and strength in the Lord,” it continues.
At least 41 people – including 15 children – died in the fire that ravaged this church in the working-class district of Imbaba. A short circuit is said to have triggered the fire, which spread rapidly while the faithful were attending the Divine Liturgy in large numbers.
This tragedy has highlighted the dilapidated state of some churches in Egypt and the sensitive issue of church construction in this country, which has about 10% of Copts.