1. Pope Francis has arrived in Egypt, where many Christians live in fear. Our reporters are tracking his two-day visit.

By Jason Horowitz and Declan Walsh, The New York Times, April 28, 2017

Pope Francis has arrived in Egypt, bearing a message of peace and reconciliation. The country is under a state of emergency after suicide bombings, attributed to Islamic State militants, killed at least 44 people in Coptic Christian churches on Palm Sunday. Follow our live coverage of his visit.


2. Pope’s Visit Expected to Highlight Christian Minorities in Middle East: Trip to Egypt comes in the wake of Palm Sunday church bombings in two cities.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2017, 4:30 AM

Pope Francis departed for Egypt on Friday morning for a two-day trip expected to draw attention to the plight of Christian minorities in the Middle East amid an upsurge of Islamist terrorism that poses security concerns for the Holy See.

The visit takes him to a country that is home to the region’s largest Christian community, where relations between Christians and Muslims are under strain after recent terror attacks. Pope Francis arrives less than three weeks after Palm Sunday church bombings in two Egyptian cities killed more than 40 people. Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Pope Francis said he was going to Egypt both to encourage Christians and to strengthen ties with the Muslim world. It is the seventh visit by Pope Francis to a Muslim-majority country and the second papal visit to Egypt, following the 2000 visit by Pope John Paul II.

The papal visit could give the extremists an opportunity to stage an attack that could stoke sectarian tensions and embarrass the Egyptian government, said Andrew Freeman, a London-based analyst with the Control Risks consulting firm.

Pope Francis’ first appearance in Egypt will be at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, considered the most authoritative religious institution in the Sunni Muslim world, where he will speak at an international peace conference. His speech is likely to address terrorism and Christianity’s relationship with Islam.

Also on Friday, the pope will address Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and an audience of diplomats and other dignitaries. Human rights advocates have denounced Mr. Sisi for abuses since he came to power in 2013, after a military coup that overthrew President Mohammed Morsi.

Later Friday, the pope will also visit Pope Tawadros II, leader of Egypt’s Orthodox Coptic Christians, who account for the vast majority of Egypt’s Christians.


3. A Woman Who Made the World Better.

By Ann Corkery, Real Clear Politics, April 28, 2017

In a city where friends are supposedly scarce, Kate O’Beirne was beloved by so many. 

Kate died this past Sunday — Divine Mercy Sunday — surrounded by family and loved ones.  Kate would point out that there was no need to identify the date she was born. She was old-school like that, so I’ll respect it. What was more interesting anyway is how she lived, not how long. She was an important conservative thought leader and superb political commentator and an incredible wife, mother, friend. She jumped out of the frame the political left wants to construct for women of the right: Kate was cool and beautiful, smart and quick, conservative and elegant, wise and feminine, kind and thoughtful, faithful and fun. She could talk comfortably to everyone: intellectuals and political activists, politicians and priests, men and women, liberals and conservatives. She only put bullies and fools in their place. There was no Narcissus in her beauty.

She had always been popular. Her high school nickname was “Kate the Great.” But here’s the thing: She always used her popularity to include people (the shy, the awkward, the newcomer) and to help others.

That was Kate. An ordinary woman with extraordinary grace. Look back at her appearances on “Meet the Press” or “The Capital Gang.” She treated the liberal arguments with respect and tried to understand and distill them.

Kate’s own book was called “Women Who Make the World Worse.” Kate made the world far better.

In 1995, Bill Buckley wrote Kate to thank her, presumably, when she come on board National Review.  “Now,” he said, “I have NOTHING to fear.” One of the last things Kate said to a small group of girlfriends was this: “When you have faith, you have nothing to fear.”

Indeed.  Requiescat in pace, Kate the Great.


4. Taking Message to Egypt, Pope Faces Difficult Test.

By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times, April 28, 2017, Pg. A6

Pope Francis departed from his prepared remarks at a special prayer service honoring Christian martyrs in Rome last weekend to tell the story of a Muslim man who watched Islamist terrorists cut the throat of his Christian wife because she refused to discard her crucifix.

That anecdote — balancing the brutal murder of a Christian by Islamist militants with a Muslim’s love for his wife — serves as a preview of the pope’s message when he visits Egypt on Friday.

Francis is expected to highlight the plight of Christians amid recent violence in Egypt, while continuing his mission to reach out to Muslims. Even for a politically savvy pope, that is a delicate balancing act, on top of obvious security concerns in a country recently attacked by the Islamic State.

Francis will lend his support to Egypt’s roughly 250,000 Catholics and insist on the protection of minority rights, including those of its nearly 10 million Coptic Christians, in a meeting Friday with Mr. Sisi, according to Samir Khalil Samir, an Egyptian-born Jesuit priest who has seen the pope’s prepared remarks.

He will also meet with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al Azhar mosque, which is affiliated with a university that is a revered center of learning in Sunni Islam, and speak at a peace conference organized by the mosque. The pope finishes the day by meeting his Coptic Christian counterpart, Pope Tawadros II, who escaped one of the bombings on Palm Sunday.


5. In Egypt, pope seeks Christian-Muslim rejection of violence.

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, April 28, 2017, 6:45 AM

Pope Francis is brushing off security concerns to forge ahead on Friday with a two-day trip to Egypt aimed at presenting a united Christian-Muslim front that repudiates violence committed in God’s name.

Three weeks after Islamic militants staged twin Palm Sunday church attacks, Francis is to lands in Cairo in the early afternoon for a series of deeply symbolic encounters with Egypt’s religious and political leadership.

He will meet with Egypt’s president, patriarch and the “other” pope, Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and pray for victims of the attacks.

Most importantly, he will also visit Al-Azhar, the revered 1,000-year-old seat of learning in Sunni Islam. There, he will meet privately with grand imam Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, and participate in an international peace conference Fridayafternoon.

The goal of the trip is to bring a message of peace to a country that has been ravaged by Islamic extremist attacks, and encourage a culture of respect and tolerance for religious minorities, said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state.


6. Re-tweeting, Liking, and Sharing the Good News.

By Christopher White, Crux, April 28, 2017

Pope Francis is relying on “a modern medium for an ancient Church” to accomplish one of the most important goals of his papacy: Creating a culture of dialogue and encounter. Twitter and other forms of social media is not without its troubles or temptations, but they can be used to help spread the Church’s message of mercy.


7. White House advisor: Trump not backing off religious freedom promise.

By Jonathan Swan, Axios, April 27, 2017

Leonard Leo, an influential social conservative who advises the White House on judicial matters, tells me speculation that President Trump has abandoned a core campaign promise on religious rights — based on delays over an executive order — is misguided.

Why this matters: Social conservatives care deeply about the issue — that religious institutions should be exempted from providing contraception in their employee health plans.

Leo’s quote: “The administration is not stepping back. It’s doing precisely what it should be doing here… because of the way people are attacking Trump executive orders, it’s very important that this thing gets done right and be as litigation-proof as possible, knowing full well they’re going to get sued anyway.”