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VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican is formally recognizing 21 Coptic Orthodox employees who had been beheaded by Islamic militants in Libya as martyrs with their very own feast day, in a big new ecumenical gesture geared toward forging unity between Catholic and Orthodox church buildings.

Pope Francis introduced the inscription of the 21 employees, most of them Egyptians, within the Roman Martyrology, the compendium of saints celebrated liturgically within the Catholic Church, throughout an viewers Thursday with the Coptic Orthodox pope.

In the course of the viewers, Francis kissed relics of the 21 younger males that Tawadros provided him as a present.

Islamic State militants beheaded the employees on a seaside in Sirte, Libya in February 2015. A grisly video of the executions was posted on-line, stunning Egyptians and prompting the Cairo authorities to stage punitive strikes in opposition to militant targets in Libya.

The lads’s our bodies had been recovered in 2017 and returned to Egypt, the place a church was constructed of their hometown to honor them.

“These martyrs had been baptized not solely within the water and Spirit, but additionally in blood, a blood that’s the seed of unity for all of Christ’s followers,” Francis advised Tawadros throughout the viewers within the Apostolic Palace.

The inscription of the Coptic Orthodox martyrs within the Catholic liturgical calendar, Francis stated, “is an indication of the non secular communion that unites our two church buildings.”

Francis has continuously referred to the “ecumenism of blood” that unites all Christians in honoring martyrs of the religion. However the inscription of modern-day martyrs of one other church within the Catholic liturgical calendar is a big first, in line with Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Vatican workplace answerable for relations with different Christian church buildings.

“That is the start of a brand new period of relations,” Farrell stated.

The Vatican will doubtless designate Feb. 15 as their feast day, the identical day the Coptic Orthodox Church honors them, officers stated.

Tawadros was on the Vatican to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of a historic assembly between his predecessor, Shenouda III, and St. Paul VI. The Coptic Orthodox pope joined Francis on stage throughout the Catholic pontiff’s weekly normal viewers on Wednesday.

Tawadros is scheduled to have fun a liturgy for the Coptic Orthodox devoted on Sunday at Francis’ cathedral, St. John Lateran.

Throughout a gathering with reporters, Tawadros stated Francis appeared genuinely happy to obtain the relics of the 21 martyrs and promised to construct a particular altar for them.

“That is one thing that helps promote larger unity between the 2 church buildings,” he stated.

By Maggi

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