The meeting between the Pope and one of the highest authorities in the Muslim world occurred at noon, local Rome time.
"I came to visit His Holiness. Everyone at the University of Al Azhar is happy about this meeting. Thank you for your welcome.”
The Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb is the rector of the Islamic University of Al Azhar in Cairo, a landmark of the Muslim world.
During the 30 minute meeting, both leaders discussed the situation of Christians in the Middle East and the responsibility of Christians and Muslims to reject violence and terrorism. In fact, Pope Francis gave his encyclical Laudato si' and medallion symbolizing peace and reconciliation.
"This is the olive tree, a symbol of peace."
"And this represents the Vatican and the University of Al Azhar."
In 2011, Ahmed el-Tayeb had suspended relations with the Vatican to protest the statements made by Benedict XVI on the discrimination against Christians in Egypt; statements that also angered the Coptic Christians. Five years later, this greeting shows that despite many differences, new beginnings are possible. This has sent the Muslim world a strong signal of commitment to dialogue.
"Thank you. Thank you. God bless you.”