Photo Credit: UK Coptic Orthodox Office for Advocacy and Public Policy
The Archbishop of Canterbury has joined other Christian leaders in participating in an ecumenical commemoration of recent Christian martyrs. Contemporary Martyrs Day was established by the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church to commemorate the 15 February 2015 murder of 21 Libyan Christians by the terror group Daesh. Held annually, it also commemorates members of the Coptic Orthodox Church who have lost their lives in recent history as a result of religious persecution.
The Coptic Archbishop of London, Archbishop Angaelos, convened an online commemoration to mark this year’s commemoration. In addition to Archbishop Justin Welby, participants included Pope Francis and the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria.
Other speakers included Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and the Anglican Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, who wrote a major report on the global persecution of Christians for the British government.
“The reality of the ‘ecumenism of blood’ is felt on this day as we commemorate the modern martyrs”, Archbishop Justin said. “It reminds us – and I am reminded too by a fellow-bishop in the Church of England who is themselves from a family where there is a modern martyr – that ecumenism and solidarity are with the persecuted, for we are united to them by their blood.
“It is not just something we feel for the persecuted, or that we stand towards the persecuted; with is the key word. If we are going to be with them, whether it is the 21 martyrs in Libya – and I still remember the horror of that news – or whether it is in Nigeria, or so many other parts of the world, we are there to listen as well as to speak – more to listen, to be in solidarity with them.”
Bishop Philip’s report showed that 80 per cent of the world’s persecuted religious believers are Christian. The ongoing plight of Christian communities around the world, as well as the situation facing Uighur and Rohingya Muslim communities, and others suffering ongoing violations of religious freedoms, was the subject of a panel discussion on the Freedom of Religion or Belief.
Watch the messages and addresses: