Pope Francis says the blood of persecuted Christians is crying out to “everyone who can still distinguish between good and evil.”
He said this in a message Monday to His Holiness Abuna Matthias, patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church, after the Islamic State (ISIS) released a video Sunday showing the execution of 30 people said to be Ethiopian Christians.
The Christians are killed in two groups in the video, 15 beheaded on the beach in eastern Libya and 15 shot in the southern Libyan desert.
The Pope said it was with “great distress and sadness” that he learned of the “further shocking violence perpetrated against innocent Christians in Libya.”
In February, ISIS released a similar video showing the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians on the Libyan shores of the Mediterranean.
“I know that Your Holiness is suffering deeply in heart and mind at the sight of your faithful children being killed for the sole reason that they are followers of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” the Pontiff said.
Both of the videos have been addressed to the “nation of the cross.”
The Pope’s message to the Ethiopian patriarch repeated an affirmation he made in February: “It makes no difference whether the victims are Catholic, Copt, Orthodox or Protestant. 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.
Pope Francis said, “The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard by everyone who can still distinguish between good and evil. All the more this cry must be heard by those who have the destiny of peoples in their hands.”
The Holy Father ended his message saying the unfading joy of Easter is this year “tinged with profound sorrow.”
“Yet we know that the life we live in God’s merciful love is stronger than the pain all Christians feel, a pain shared by men and women of good will in all religious traditions,” he concluded.
Libya is a destination site for many African migrants, either looking for work there or for passage to Europe. The plight of these people was highlighted further as a boat carrying migrants sank off the Libyan shore over the weekend and several hundred are thought to have died. An exact number has yet to be confirmed since reports from the few survivors indicate a range of 700 to nearly 1,000 passengers, some of whom were locked into the lowest level of the vessel. (K.N.)
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