Vatican City, Apr 20, 2015 / 16:50 pm America/Denver (CNA).
Pope Francis voiced his distress at the news of a reported mass execution of Ethiopian Christians in Libya at the hands of ISIS, pleading that their deaths may not go ignored.
“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.”
In a message to Abuna Matthias, patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church, the Pope offered “heartfelt condolences” and an “embrace of peace in Christ Our Lord.”
“With great distress and sadness I learn of the further shocking violence perpetrated against innocent Christians in Libya,” the Pope said. “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.”
On Sunday, a video released by social media accounts associated with the Islamic State purported to show mass executions of Ethiopian Christians in Libya.
The Islamic State – also known as ISIS – has taken over parts of Iraq and Syria in recent months. The militant terror group has established a caliphate and carried out mass persecutions of minority populations, primarily Christians and Yazidis. They have also published videos showing the beheading of foreign hostages as a warning to countries that have militarily intervened.
“It makes no difference whether the victims are Catholic, Copt, Orthodox or Protestant,” Pope Francis said in his message. “Their blood is one and the same in their confession of Christ!”
He offered hope amidst the darkness, noting the Easter season of joy in the knowledge that “Christ has risen from the dead.”
“This year, that joy – which never fades – is 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.”
The Pope offered “heartfelt spiritual solidarity” and assurances of “closeness in prayer at the continuing martyrdom being so cruelly inflicted on Christians in Africa, the Middle East and some parts of Asia.”