Pope Francis urged Christians to find strength through unity, calling the 21 Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS “martyrs” who belong to the entire Christian world. The appeal echoes the outrage that has galvanized Egyptian air forces. Threats to “sack Rome” are also causing Italian forces to consider action.
In an impromptu appeal at the Church of Scotland, Pope Francis called for all Christians to hear the cries of the recently executed Coptic Christians.
“The blood of our Christian brothers is a testimony which cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians. Their blood is one and the same.”
The Pope added, “as we recall these brothers who died only because they confessed Christ, I ask that we encourage each another to go forward with this ecumenism which is giving us strength, the ecumenism of blood.”
“The martyrs belong to all Christians.”
Ecumenism describes the initiative to promote unity among the world’s Christian churches. The Argentinian Pope Francis notably switched to his native Spanish to talk about the executions, leaving behind the Italian he uses at most formal events.
The Pope also mentioned the victims last words, “Jesus help me.”
Pope Francis was responding to ISIS’ video, showing the group’s members beheading 21 Coptic Christians on the shores Tripoli.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Coptic Christians are an ancient religious sect that can trace its language and culture back to the first century A.D. Islamist groups have already murdered large numbers of the religious minority, including victims of late night kidnappings.
According to the Huffington Post, Pope Francis met with the group’s patriarch, Tawadros II, in May of 2013 to promote unity. The ancient religious sect was already complaining about religious oppression and violence, saying it had been on the rise since the ousting of Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Pope Francis and his Coptic counterpart prayed together for the future of the Christians in the Middle East.
At the time, Francis said, “from shared suffering can blossom forth forgiveness, reconciliation and peace, with God’s help.”
Now, almost two years later, Copts and other Christian groups face even more danger, and if ISIS has its way, the peril will come to one of the centers of the Catholic world.
According to the New York Post, an ISIS member in the execution video vowed the group would eventually sack Rome, about 600 miles from Tripoli.
Italy’s Foreign Minister, Roberta Pinotti, is ready to answer the threat immediately if necessary, telling the newspaper Il Messaggero that 5,000 troops are ready for action. Egypt is already responding to the execution. Reuters reports they’ve hit militant camps and training centers in pre-dawn airstrikes.
The Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported that later Monday, Pope Francis called Patriarch Tawadros II to give his condolences.
[Image Credit: Getty Images]