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Vatican City - Pope Francis on Sunday decried a deadly attack on a Coptic church in Egypt during Palm Sunday celebrations, just weeks before his planned visit to Cairo.

The pontiff expressed his "deep condolences" to the Coptic patriarch, Tawadros II, calling him "my brother," to the Coptic church and "all of the dear Egyptian nation," and said he was praying for the dead and injured in the attack that occurred just hours earlier as Francis himself was marking Palm Sunday in St. Peter's Square.

Lord, by your Passion and Resurrection you came to set us free from all violence, hatred, war and terrorism. Change all hearts to be more like yours and provide healing and consolation for all victims of terrorism and war. Increase our faith, hope and charity until there is a lasting peace for all mankind.

We adore you, oh Christ, and we praise you for by your cross you have redeemed the world.

Oh blood and water, which gush forth from the heart of Jesus, we trust in you. Amen
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