Pope Francis waves as he leads the Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
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Pope Francis hopes to mend ties with Muslims on his trip to Egypt Friday but faces criticism from church conservatives for meeting Islamic religious leaders after a spate of deadly attacks against Christians.Francis will meet President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi; Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, the world's most influential center of Sunni Islamic theology and learning; and Pope Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, who barely escaped the Alexandria bombing.A main reason for the trip is to try to strengthen relations with the 1,000-year-old Al-Azhar center that were cut by the Muslim side in 2011 over what it said were repeated insults of Islam by Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict.Papal aides say a moderate like Tayeb would be an important ally in condemning radical Islam.The pope's views are not shared by all Catholics, however.A leading Catholic scholar of Islam, Egyptian-born Father Samir Khalil Samir, said that Francis meant well but was naive.
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