It is six years since the martyrdom of 21 Coptic boys in Libya by Daesh. At the time, Bishop Angaelos famously tweeted “Father Forgive” setting a remarkable example to the world. The statement that follows has been sent us today by the office of the Coptic Church in the UK:
‘Contemporary Martyrs Day’ is marked annually by The Coptic Orthodox Church to commemorate the anniversary of the 21 Libya Martyrs who were murdered by Isis on 15 February 2015 in Libya. It has also been established to commemorate members of the Coptic Orthodox Church who have lost their lives in contemporary history as a result of religious persecution. The commemoration was initially established during a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
To mark the day this year, His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London said: “The Coptic Orthodox Church is in a unique place, through its own experience of persecution across the centuries, to speak for those of all faiths and none who continue to suffer today, and it is for this reason that we gather to raise awareness and advocate for those who are not in a position to speak for themselves.”
“Through the witness of the 21 we have learned resilience, we have learned generosity, we have learned graciousness, we have learned to love quite literally those who seek to kill us, and we have learned to forgive, and so we are thankful for their witness.”
“As Christians this is our calling, who we are, we would not be true to ourselves if we do not advocate and stand together for people of all faiths and none, because we all share that humanity…when we stand against oppression and against persecution, we gain, because our humanity is enriched.”
Concluding with Scripture, Archbishop Angaelos said: “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)