Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him.” — James 1:12

Terrible violence has once again fallen upon Coptic Christians this week as men, women and children were traveling on a pilgrimage to visit the Monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in the Minya Province of Egypt. A day they anticipated to be peaceful and prayerful ended with tragedy, with 28 people killed and nearly the same number injured.

After their caravan was stopped by people dressed in military clothing claiming to be security officers, the passengers were ordered out of their vehicles. Some men were instructed to recite a prayer declaring their faith in Islam, and when they refused their lives were brutally taken, some with a single gunshot to the head.

These are the modern day martyrs of the Church! What tremendous faith these people demonstrated, choosing death rather than to renounce their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us pray for their eternal repose, and for the comfort of their grieving families.

Christians in all corners of the world are encountering dire situations and suffering on a daily basis. I ask that prayers be offered in our churches to heighten our resolve and unite as Christians in seeking justice and protection from these horrible acts so that all might one day freely and safely practice their faith.

And, as we celebrate this Memorial Day weekend, let us also remember with grateful hearts those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation through their service in the Armed Forces, as well as call to mind all those currently fighting for our freedom that God will protect them and grant peace to our world.

With Love in Christ,
+ G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco