International News

Pope Mourns Beheaded Christians

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis sent his condolences to Patriarch Mathias of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church for the execution of more than 20 Ethiopian Christians at the hands of Islamic State militants in Libya. A video of the killings was released April 19.

He also urged world leaders to hear the cry of all the Christians who are victims of continued violence, cruelty and killings.

“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 pope said.

“With great distress and sadness I learn of the further shocking violence perpetrated against innocent Christians in Libya,” the pope wrote.

He assured the patriarch of his “closeness in prayer at the continuing martyrdom being so cruelly inflicted on Christians in Africa, the Middle East and some parts of Asia. 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.”

At a time when Christians were still celebrating the joy of Easter, he said, “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.”

Pope Francis highlighted the fate of the martyred Christians April 21 at his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, as the day’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles (7:51-8:1) described the stoning and killing of St. Stephen – the Church’s first martyr.

“How many Stephens there are in the world these days. We think of our brothers whose throats were slit on the beach in Libya,” he said.