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LA STAMPA (Italy), THE CHRISTIAN TIMES, MENA (Middle East News Agency)

Worldcrunch

ROME – Pope Francis has accepted an invitation from the Coptic Pope Tawadros II to visit Egypt. The date of this visit has not been set yet, but it will be the first papal visit to the largest Middle East country since John Paul II went to Cairo in 2000.

The invitation was made by Pope Tawadros II during his recent visit to Vatican city, Vatican Embassy Media Advisor in Cairo Father Rafik Jaraish told the Middle East News Agency. He added that Tawadros II and Pope Francis had agreed to resume the Dialogue Committee discussions between the two Churches, initially started in 1988.

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Pope Francis and the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt met in the Vatican on May 10, in the first such visit in 40 years. They prayed together for peace in the Apostolic Palace and discussed the need for Christian unity in a changing and challenging world, The Christian Times reports.

After their meeting, Pope Francis declared: “Just as the blood of the martyrs was a seed of strength and fertility for the Church, so too the sharing of daily sufferings can become an effective instrument of unity,” La Stampa reports. This visit comes as a symbol of reconciliation and solidarity with the Christians of Egypt, who have endured repeated attacks over the past two years since the Arab Spring unleashed upheaval in the country, where some 10 percent of the population are Christian.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

How Istanbul Became The Top Destination For Russians Fleeing Conscription

Hundreds of thousands of men have left Russia since partial mobilization was announced. Turkey, which still has air routes open with Moscow, is one of their top choices. But life is far from easy once they land.

A passenger aboard a ferry docked at Kadikoy pier in Istanbul, Turkey.

Timour Ozturk

ISTANBUL — Sitting on a bench in front of the Sea of Marmara, Albert tries to roll a cigarette despite the wind blowing his blonde hair strands. This 31-year-old political philosophy doctor is staying at a friend’s place in Kadıköy, a trendy neighborhood on the Asian bank of Istanbul and popular amongst expats.

On Friday, Sept. 23, Albert left Moscow, where he was visiting his parents, with two shirts and two pairs of pants hastily shoved in a backpack. “When I heard about the annexation referendums in the new Ukrainian territories, I knew the situation would get worse. I thought I had a few more days. But when Putin announced the partial mobilization on the morning of Sept. 21, I booked my tickets right away.”

Albert had tried to stir up a student movement against the war in St. Petersburg. He was arrested with his partner on Feb. 27, spent a night in jail and was fined a few hundred euros. They persevered and took part in protests but in April, while he was going to a demonstration, he was arrested once again. His detention lasted five days.

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