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The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christian unity, Pope tells Ethiopian patriarch

February 29, 2016

Pope Francis received the patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in audience on February 29 and said that the blood of Christian martyrs is a summons to Christian unity.

With 41 million members, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the largest of the Oriental Orthodox churches that ceased to be in full communion with the Holy See following the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451. Its current patriarch, Abune Mathias, was elected in 2013.

“Just as in the early Church the shedding of the blood of martyrs became the seed of new Christians, so today the blood of the many martyrs of all the Churches has become the seed of Christian unity,” Pope Francis said.

“The martyrs and saints of all the ecclesial traditions are already one in Christ,” he continued. “Their names are inscribed in the one martyrologium of the Church of God. The ecumenism of the martyrs is a summons to us, here and now, to advance on the path to ever greater unity.”

Pope Francis added:

From the beginning, yours has been a Church of martyrs. Today too, you are witnessing a devastating outbreak of violence against Christians and other minorities in the Middle East and in some parts of Africa. We cannot fail, yet again, to implore those who govern the world’s political and economic life to promote a peaceful coexistence based on reciprocal respect and reconciliation, mutual forgiveness and solidarity.


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