LYBIA: Bishop Martinelli Vows to Stay in Libya

TRIPOLI, FEBRUARY 19, 2015 (CISA) – Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli has vowed to stay in Libya with the few remaining Christians in Tripoli even as foreign nationals flee the war torn nation.

“We are ready to bear witness to who we are and to what we do according to the words of Christ,” Vatican Radio quoted the bishop as saying.

Bishop Martinelli called for dialogue and understanding in Libya and urged the international community to take it upon itself to launch talks “with this divided nation that needs to find internal unity.”

The prelate confirmed that Jihadi militants are currently in Tripoli and that at any moment he and his parishioners could be taken by terrorists but that the situation is not only terrible for Christians, but for all the people of Libya who want to live normally.

The bishop further called for a concerted effort that includes Muslims and Arab countries to start addressing the issues that have led to the “deep and tragic fractures” within the Libyan nation including selfishness and the economic interests.

Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, a number of Islamist movements have taken hold in Libya raking havoc. On Sunday February 15, a video emerged showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by Islamic State militants.

The victims were among thousands of unemployed Egyptians seeking work in Libya.

Today Pope Francis offered Mass for the twenty-one Coptic Christians martyred for their faith and invited the congregation to join him in prayer for “our brother Copts, whose throats were slit for the sole reason of being Christian, that the Lord welcome them as martyrs.”

On Monday February 16, the Pope had made a personal phone call to Patriarch Tawadros, who is the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, to express his sorrow at the brutal murder.

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