At morning mass recently, Pope Francis honored the many Christians who are persecuted and killed for their faith around the world, and requested we remember them:
The true history of the Church is that of the saints and the martyrs. In these days how many Stephens there are in the world! Let us think of our brothers whose throats were slit on the beach in Libya; let’s think of the young boy who was burnt alive by his companions because he was a Christian; let us think of those migrants thrown from their boat into the open sea by other migrants because they were Christians; let us think – just the day before yesterday – of those Ethiopians assassinated because they were Christians… and of many others. Many others of whom we do not even know and who are suffering in jails because they are Christians. The Church today is a Church of martyrs: they suffer, they give their lives and we receive the blessing of God for their witness.
God’s Word is always rejected by some. God’s Word is inconvenient when you have a stone heart, when you have a pagan heart, because God’s Word asks you to go ahead trying to satisfy your hunger with the bread which Jesus spoke of. In the history of the Revelation many martyrs have been killed for their faith and loyalty towards God’s Word, God’s Truth.
He also expressed solidarity with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, after the recent murder by ISIS of 28 Ethiopian Christians, sending a message of condolence to the Patriarch Matthias:
With great distress and sadness I learn of the further shocking violence perpetrated against innocent Christians in Libya. I reach out to you in heartfelt spiritual solidarity to assure you of my closeness in prayer at the continuing martyrdom being so cruelly inflicted on Christians in Africa, the Middle East and some parts of Asia. It makes no difference whether the victims are Catholic, Copt, Orthodox or Protestant, their blood is one and the same in their confession of Christ!
Please remember these martyrs in your prayers.