The Catholic bishops of Ethiopia concluded their ordinary assembly Thursday, and during the course of the meeting released a statement regarding the slaying of 30 of their countrymen by ISIS.
The Islamist terrorist group released last Sunday a video of the killings, which were performed in Libya. This video and a previous one showing the slaying of Egyptian Copts are directed to “the nation of the cross.”
The Pope on Monday sent a message to the leader of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, condemning the slayings and saying that the blood of persecuted Christians is calling out to anyone who can still distinguish good from evil. He said that it doesn’t matter if those killed are Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant, as their blood is “one and the same in their confession of Christ!”
Ethiopia is over 40% Orthodox, with about another third of its population being Muslim. Protestants make up another near 20% and Catholics are less than 1% of the population.
The Ethiopian bishops condemned the killing and asked the international community to protect migrants, wherever they live. They also asked their nation’s young people to consider a path other than emigration, and to avoid emigrating without necessary precautions.
Terrorism can never represent any religion, they affirm.
Here is the full text of the statement:
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On our 36th ordinary assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia, held between 18-23 April 2015, we received the sad news of the atrocious killings of 30 innocent Christian Ethiopian Migrants in Libya with great indignation and anger. We pray that the souls of our departed children may rest in peace and all the bereaved family members obtain consolation from God our Father.
We the Ethiopian Catholic Bishops of Ethiopia condemn in unambiguous terms this barbaric terrorist act and call up on all international communities and Governments to provide protection to migrants where ever they live, so that such acts may never be repeated to the lives of innocent people.
These Ethiopian Martyrs who were butchered on the coast and desert of Libya were not politicians, nor military soldiers, or they were not armed people, considered to be dangerous people for security, rather they were young innocent migrants hopeful for a better future on the other end of their destination; capable of transforming their lives, the lives of their families and even contribute for the betterment of the country of their destination.
We are saddened that these young people were killed, because they refused to change their faith in a world where every human being regardless of race, color, and religion should live in any country with their human rights respected.
In fact these terrorist acts do not represent any religion; it is known that these are cruel killers who murder even followers of their own religion. However, the blood of innocent people should never be shed in the name of the Lord in any country.
Most of the religions spread in our world through migrants. The Jews became a nation after their migration to Africa. Our Lord Jesus Christ came to Africa as a refugee and returned to his birth place after receiving African hospitality. The first persecuted Christians scattered to surrounding countries for the sake of their faith and spread their faith in Jesus Christ. The first Muslims came to Ethiopia around 615 A.D. and preached Muslim religion in Ethiopia. We Africans and especially Ethiopians have a great tradition of welcoming refugees and hosting them in our country. Even today Ethiopia is hosting tens of thousands of refugees from different countries without any discrimination. Why such atrocity and bloodshed up on the innocent Children of Ethiopia? Ethiopian refugees in any country should be treated according to international refugees’ agreements like any other nationals; it is a crime to take away their lives.
We plead to the human traffickers who are tricking the youth to leave their country through illegal means to stop their acts; to those young persons who are still planning to migrate from their country, even though it is your right to move from one country to another, we ask you not to travel without making sure that your country of destination provides you protection or fall in the traps of the human traffickers and travel without the necessary legal documents. Moreover, we ask the youth to consider the option of working and prospering in your own country and drop the idea of migrating to another country where there is no safety.
We will keep the Martyrs in our prayers. May their souls rest in peace in heaven among the Angels and Saints. We pray for all the bereaved family members that the Lord may grant you his consolation. May our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Consolation, intercede for our Martyrs and console their families and relatives.
May God bless Ethiopia with his peace.
+Berhaneyesus D. Cardinal Souraphiel, C.M.
Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Ababa
President of the Ethiopian Catholic Bishops’ Conference
April 21, 2015