By Theodore Shoebat
After the Muslims slaughtered thirty Ethiopian Christians, Pope Francis sent a letter to the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church (to which the thirty Christians belonged), Abuna Matthias, declaring:
With great distress and sadness I learn of the further shocking violence perpetrated against innocent Christians in Lybia. I know that Your Holiness is suffering deeply in heart and mind at the sight of your faithful children being killed for the sole reason that they are followers of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I reach out to you in heartfelt spiritual solidarity to assure you of my closeness in prayer at the continuing martyrdom being so cruelly inflicted on Christians in Africa, the Middle East and some parts of Asia.
It makes no difference whether the victims are Catholic, Copt, Orthodox or Protestant. Their blood is one and the same in their confession of Christ! The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard by everyone who can still distinguish between good and evil. All the more this cry must be heard by those who have the destiny of peoples in their hands.
At this time we are filled with the Easter joy of the disciples to whom the women had brought
the news that “Christ has risen from the dead”. This year, that joy – which never fades – is tinged with profound sorrow. Yet we know that the life we live in God’s merciful love is stronger than the pain all Christians feel, a pain shared by men and women of good will in all religious traditions.
With heartfelt condolences I exchange with Your Holiness the embrace of peace in Christ Our Lord.
One of the saddest things for me is when I see Catholics saying that it is impossible for a Protestant to have salvation, or a Protestant saying the same about Catholics, regardless of all of the good fruits a particular person could bear. If a Christian dies for the cause of Christ, his action has proven his faith, and we are in no position to all of a sudden dictate the eternal state of the person’s soul. Pope Pius XII rescued hundreds of thousands of Jews from the death camps of the Nazis, and yet there are people who will say that he is burning in hell right now, as though they have some sort of supernatural site.
Protestants can strive so hard to help their persecuted brethren, and yet there are people who will say that they are not Christians and have no salvation.
To such people I must ask, “Who is your brother?” And to such a question the answer is the story of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritans were to the highest enmity of the Jews. They accepted only the five books of Moses as canonical, and were viewed as heretics by the orthodox Jews. But nonetheless, Jesus used the story of the Good Samaritan as a way to illustrate who truly are our brethren. Our brothers are those who do the will of God, by loving Him and loving his neighbor, caring for him when he is persecuted.
The Protestant who helps the persecuted is greater than the Catholic who does nothing for the persecuted, even if he goes to Mass every day. And vice-versa: the Catholic who helps the persecuted is better than the Protestant who does nothing, even if he goes to a thousand prayer meetings and Bible studies.
I have seen the same sort of animosity between the Eastern Orthodox Christians and the Roman Catholics. There are Eastern Orthodox people who will say that Catholics are going to burn in hell, and I have heard Roman Catholic clerics call Eastern Orthodox Christians “heretics.” But, the Eastern Orthodox Christian who fights homosexuality with all vigor, is better than the Catholic who supports homosexuality. And vice-versa, the Roman Catholic who shows compassion for the persecuted, is better than the Eastern Orthodox person who harlots himself with Islam.
Now is the time for us to unite for the cause of helping our persecuted brethren. We cannot be like those useless people who, when seeing our brother wounded and oppressed, simply look at him and pass by on the other side. (Luke 10:31) We must be like that Samaritan who, when seeing the man in all of his infliction and suffering, had compassion. (Luke 10:33) Although theologically the Samaritan was not orthodox, he was more unified with eternal truth through compassion, then the Jew who worshipped the letter of the Law, which kills , and yet had not the Spirit that gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6).