The Pope called for all Christians to hear the ‘testimony’ of their slain ‘brothers,’ killed by Islamic State militants in Libya.
VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis on Monday paid tribute to the Egyptian Coptic Christians whom Islamic State militants claimed to have beheaded in Libya.
“Today, I read about the execution of these 21, 22 Christian Coptics. The only thing they said was: ‘Jesus help me.’ They were killed simply for the fact of being Christians,” Francis said.
He made an impromptu addition in Spanish to a prepared speech in Italian for an audience with Reverend John Chalmers, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
“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 pontiff said.
“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,” he concluded.
Later Monday, Francis telephoned Coptic Pope Tawadros II to offer his condolences, the Vatican said.
The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics called “to express his heartfelt participation in the sorrow of the Coptic Church for the recent barbarous killing of Christian Coptics at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists,” a statement said.