In statements yesterday, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Francis each condemned the martyrdom of Egyptian Copts at the hands of so-called ISIS fighters, and pledged their support for Christians in the region.
Speaking in Scotland yesterday, Pope Francis departed from his script, according to the Huffington Post, to speak in his native Spanish, rather than the Italian more normally used at formal speaking engagements.
“The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians!”
Francis added: “The martyrs belong to all Christians.”
The Most Rev Justin Welby issued a statement referencing the recent murders in Denmark and Nigeria, as well as the situation in Libya and Egypt, of which he said.
“In Egypt and Libya, the home of Christian faith, of saints and martyrs since the earliest centuries, more suffering has been perpetrated. The Coptic church has responded with courage and as always with faith. The light and peace of Christ are at the heart of the faithful lives of Christians, and will not be overcome by the darkness which ISIS seek to spread. I have been in touch with the Anglican Church in Egypt to express solidarity.
“Let us pray for the peace of Christ to be evident, and for governments affected to be wise and courageous.”
The Archbishop’s page included an audio link to an interview with Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom.
Today, The Most Rev Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis, Archbishop of the Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, and Primate of the Episcopal/Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, also released a statement.
These men from the Upper Egyptian city of Samalout are no different from thousands of other Muslim and Christian Egyptians in Libya, seeking employment to support their families back home.
Except that these 21 were specifically chosen for their Christian faith. The video of their beheading expressed the Islamic State’s intention to increasingly target the Copts of Egypt.
The Archbishop spoke of the Egyptian government’s military response to the atrocity, and its appeal to the United Nations for support. His statement continued,
The Anglican Church in Egypt and the world expresses its deep condolences to the families of these men, and also to his Holiness Pope Tawadros II, patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Please join me in praying for peace in Libya, Egypt, and the entire Middle East. Please pray the international community will act in wisdom, correctly and efficiently, and support Egypt in its war on terror. Please pray the churches of Egypt will comfort their sons and daughters, encouraging them to resist fear and hatred. And please pray for the perpetrators of this terrible crime, that God would be merciful to them and change their hearts.
Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Such cheer may seem impossible, but it is God’s promise. Please pray for us, that we may live lives worthy of his name, and hold to the testimony exhibited by the brave Egyptians in Libya.
Posted by Rosalind Hughes