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The Pope’s sorrow over Ethiopian Copts assassinated in Libya, and for all persecuted Christians – Ongoing martyrdom

The Pope’s sorrow over Ethiopian Copts assassinated in Libya, and for all persecuted Christians – Ongoing martyrdom

In a message sent to H.H.
Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo

Pope Francis expressed “consternation and sorrow” for the countless
events of “shocking violence perpetrated against innocent Christians in Libya”,
following the dissemination of a video which showed the barbaric killing of 28
Ethiopian Coptic Christians.

“I know that your
Holiness is suffering deeply in heart and mind, in view of your faithful,
killed for the sole reason of being followers of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ. I address my heartfelt spiritual solidarity to you, to assure you of my
closeness in prayer amid the ongoing martyrdom being inflicted in so cruel a
manner upon Christians in Africa, in the Middle East and in some regions of
Asia”, Francis wrote.

“It makes no
difference”, he continued, “whether the victims are Catholic, Copt, Orthodox or
Protestant. Their blood is one and the same in their confession of Christ! The
blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to
make itself heard by all those who still know how to distinguish between good
and evil”. And this cry, he added, “must be heard above all by those who hold
the fate of the peoples in their hands”

Recalling that “in this period we are filled with the
Easter joy of the disciples to whom the women hastened to proclaim that “Christ
has risen from the dead”, the Pontiff acknowledged that “this year, our joy,
which never fails, is eclipsed by profound sadness”. Yet, he affirmed “we know
that the life we live in the merciful love of God is stronger than the sorrow
that all Christians are feeling, a sorrow shared by men and women of good will
in all religious traditions.

During the Mass celebrated at Santa Marta on Tuesday morning, 21 April, Pope
Francisrepeated that “today the Church
is the Church of martyrs”, addressing a thought to “the Ethiopians assassinated
for being Christians” and to all believers who in various parts of the world
are victims of violence and persecution. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of
the Congregation for the Eastern Churches also spoke of “martyrs”, condemning
themost recent event of chilling
jihadist violence.