Pope Francis offered Mass Tuesday morning for the repose of the souls of the twenty-one Egyptian Coptic Christians killed by ISIS jihadists in Sirte, Libya. They were martyred for their faith in Christ. The Mass was attended by the Pope’s personal secretary, Abuna Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, who is Coptic Catholic. As he prepared to begin Mass in the Santa Marta Chapel, the Pope invited the congregation to join him in prayer for ‘our Coptic brothers, whose throats were slit for the sole reason of being Christian, that the Lord welcome them as martyrs, for their families, for my brother Tawadros, who is suffering greatly’. He then prayed: “Be my protector, O God, a mighty stronghold to save me. For you are my rock, my stronghold! Lead me; guide me, for the sake of your name”. Monday evening the Pope had made a personal phone call to Patriarch Tawadros, who is the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, to express his sorrow at the brutal murder. During his homily the Pope spoke of man’s capability for evil and destruction and condemned what he termed ‘merchants of death’, business people who sell arms to those at war, furthering a cycle of hate, fratricide and violence.
Man is capable of destroying fraternity
Pope Francis pointed out that in the first chapters of the Bible we find many examples - Sodom and Gomorrah, the Tower of Babel - in which man reveals his wickedness. "An evil that lurks in the depths of the heart”. The Pope noted some people would urge him not to be so negative, but – he continued – “this is the truth. We are also capable of destroying fraternity: Cain and Abel in the first pages of the Bible. They destroy fraternity. This is where wars begin. Jealousy, envy, so much greed for power, to have more power. Yes, this sounds negative, but it is realistic. Let us offer our Lenten prayers, sacrifices and almsgiving for all those who throughout the world are persecuted because of their attachment to Christ. May the intercession of countless new martyrs give them strength!
Novi Martyres Coptici – Ora te pro nobis.New Coptic Martyrs – Pray for us.