Pope Francis recognises 21 Copts beheaded by Islamic State as martyrs By Reuters

© Reuters. Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros II, the 118th Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark Cathedral, meet on the Vatican Could 11, 2023. Vatican Media/­Handout through REUTERS

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Thursday introduced that 21 Coptic Orthodox Christians beheaded by Islamic State in Libya in 2015 are being recognised as martyrs by the Vatican.

He revealed the transfer throughout a gathering with Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church and stated he was doing so with Tawadros’ consent.

The 21 Copts, 20 Egyptians and a Ghanaian, have been lined up on Feb. 15, 2015 in orange jumpsuits on a seashore within the Libyan metropolis of Sirte, which Islamic State then managed. The Islamist group posted a video of the killings, exhibiting the boys praying as they died.

Francis instructed Tawadros that the inscription of the boys in what is called the Roman Martyrology, or calendar of saints, was “an indication of the non secular communion that unites our two Church buildings”.

Their ‘feast’ day – which celebrates their reminiscence – is anticipated to be Feb. 15.

Tawadros, 70, is on the Vatican to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the primary assembly between a Roman pope and a Coptic pope, which came about between their respective predecessors, Paul VI and Shenouda III, in 1973.

Copts comprise about 10% of Egypt’s largely Muslim inhabitants and there are small Coptic Christian communities all through the Center East and Africa. They’ve lengthy been attacked by Islamist militants who see them as heretics.

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