VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis expressed sorrow for the victims of an attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt in his Angelus address Sunday.
Islamic militants ambushed a bus carrying Coptic Christian pilgrims to a desert monastery south of Cairo on Friday, killing seven and leaving 19 injured.
“I pray for the victims, pilgrims killed just because they are Christians, and I ask Holy Mary to console their families and the whole community,” Francis said Nov. 4.
The Coptic Orthodox Church held funerals on Saturday for six of the victims, who were killed while on pilgrimage to Saint Samuel the Confessor monastery in Egypt’s Minya province. The Islamic State claims to be behind Friday’s attack.
“Love for God and love for neighbor are inseparable,” Francis said Sunday. “It would be an illusion to claim to love our neighbor without loving God; and it would be just as illusory to claim to love God without loving our neighbor.”
“My neighbor is the person I meet along my journey,” the pope said. I cannot “pre-select” my neighbor, he stressed, “This is not Christian.”
“Today’s Gospel invites all of us to be attentive not only towards the urgencies of the poorest brothers, but above all to be attentive to their need for fraternal closeness, for the meaning of life and tenderness,” Francis told the 20,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
“We can say that the hungry not only needs a plate of soup, but also a smile, to be heard, and even a prayer, maybe done together,” the pope continued.
Francis expressed gratitude for the beatification of Blessed Mother Clelia Merloni on Saturday.
Merloni was a 20th century Italian religious sister whose life was marked by both suffering and evangelical initiative.
As foundress of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Merloni was “a woman fully abandoned to God’s will, zealous in charity, patient in adversity and heroic in forgiveness,” Francis said.
“Let us give thanks to God for the luminous Gospel witness of this new Blessed and let us follow her example of goodness and mercy.”