AFRICA/EGYPT - Coptic Patriarch Tawadros: "our martyrs bind us to Heaven"

Tuesday, 13 December 2016 martyrs   oriental churches   jihadists   terrorism

Cairo (Agenzia Fides) - "Our martyrs, and the act of martyrdom in itself, bind us to heaven, and make our hearts rise up to those who are already there, and from there they intercede for us".
This is how Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II celebrated the victims of the terrorist attack perpetrated last Sunday, December 11, during the Mass in the church of Botrosiya, next to the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo. The words of the Patriarch were uttered in the homily during the funeral of the victims, celebrated yesterday in the cathedral of San Marco in Cairo.
"We call our Church 'the Church of the martyrs'," added Pope Tawadros, recalling that "since the first century AD, Copts have offered their lives as a sacrifice for the sake of Christ". During his homily, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch also mentioned that the new Coptic martyrs lost their lives during the month of Kiahk, Coptic calendar month dedicated to Mary, which is before Christmas and is a month of joy and praise. "Let's say goodbye to our loved ones with the same spirit of praise", said the Primate of the Coptic Orthodox church", because we believe that there is no death for those who love God: they will be resurrected in the joy of eternal life". The Pope concluded by stressing that the hand of terrorism can never escape God’s punishment.
Already yesterday, during the civil commemoration of the victims held at the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi announced the arrest of four suspects who seem to be involved in the attack, and a young suicide bomber has been identified as responsible for the killing. The security forces, after the scientific findings, claim to have identified the 22-year old Mahmud Shafik Mohamed Mostafa as the suicide bomber, presented as an affiliate of Wilayat Sinai (Sinai State), the Egyptian group linked to the Islamic State. But the two major active jihadist acronyms in Cairo, the Hasam movement and Liwaa Thuwrah group, condemned the attack.
Yesterday family members and friends of the victims - reports the Egyptian press - had welcomed the arrival of the Patriarch in the cathedral with a mixture of pain and joy, between people who invoked the mercy of God and others throwing cries of victory for the certainty that their loved ones have been accepted in Paradise. Pope Tawadros was visibly distressed. The funeral ceremony began with the prayer of thanksgiving, continued with the reading of the Holy Scriptures and then with prayers for the eternal life of the deceased.
Patriarch Tawadros’ words during the homily for the Coptic victims of terrorism testify in a simple and disarming manner the gaze that Christians have always turned to their martyrs. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 13/12/2016)