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Pope Francis hails murdered Coptic Christians as martyrs

Pope Francis (AP)

Pope Francis has prayed for God to welcome the 21 Coptic Christians murdered by ISIS as martyrs since they had their “throats slit for the sole reason of being Christians.”

“The Lord welcome them as martyrs, for their families, for my brother [Coptic Pope] Tawadros, who is suffering greatly,” he said.

The Holy Father was speaking at Mass this morning in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, which was offered for the Egyptian Coptics killed in Libya.

On Sunday Islamist militants claiming loyalty to ISIS released a video showing the beheading of the men who were taken hostage in Libya several weeks ago.

Every human heart has the capacity to do good or evil, but the strength to make the right choice comes from Christ, Pope Francis said during his homily, before adding, “but why are we like this? Because we have this possibility for destruction, this is the problem.”

The Pope also criticised weapons dealers as being merchants of death and said countries that sell arms allow wars to never end.

In his homily, the Pope focused on the wickedness in human hearts. In the first reading from the Book of Genesis (6:5-7:10), this wickedness led God to regret creating humanity and to bring about the great flood. Wickedness led Jesus’ disciples to bicker and blame each other as seen in the story from the Gospel of Mark (8:14-21) when the disciples had forgotten to bring enough bread.

“Humanity is capable of destroying everything God made,” including the original loving bonds of brotherhood, family and society because of “jealousy, envy and so much greed for power, to have more power,” Pope Francis said.

The Pope added that people desire full freedom and autonomy, with some saying, “I’m going to do what I want and if I want this, I’ll do it. And if that means I want to wage war, I’ll do it!”

He said: “Then in war, in arms trafficking, ‘Well we are business people’ Really, in what? In death? And there are countries that sell arms to that one who’s at war with this one and so they also sell (weapons) to this one so that this way the war keeps going.”

Everyone has a capability to destroy because there is “this seed inside, this possibility. But we also have the Holy Sprit who saves us, you know. But we have to choose,” he said, even “in the small things.”