Amid recent unrest in Ethiopia during October that claimed the lives of 52 Christians, Pope Francis pled for prayer for the victims.

The Holy Father’s comments came after his Sunday Angelus address to the Faithful in Saint Peter’s Square.

He expressed his grief for the victims of Christian persecution and his closeness to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. He pled for worldwide prayer, leading the crowd in reciting the Hail Mary.

“I am saddened by the violence of which the Christians of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church are victims. I express my closeness to this Church and to its Patriarch, dear brother Abune Matthias, and I ask you to pray for all the victims of the violence in that land.”

After the ascent of a new prime minister in April of 2018, ethnic tensions have been bubbling over resulting in violent unrest that has mainly targeted Ethiopian Orthodox Christians.

Nearly 30 churches have been attacked, 18 were burned to the ground, and almost 100 worshippers were killed from July 2018 to September 2019. In the month of October, Ethiopia’s Oromia Region erupted in violence resulting in the death of 52 Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, 2 of which where church officials. Grenades were thrown into churches, and the homes and businesses of Christians set on fire.

In an emotional interview given to local news on October 28th, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Abune Matthias pled for peace and called for action to end the violence.

“I carry a cross in my hand, not a gun. My children, I am tearfully praying to our God about your suffering. I am also continuing to plead with the government. Today I am deeply grieved. I have the urge to weep like a child. In the hopes day to day for improvement, we have been asking the government to put a stop to it. However we have seen nothing change. While I was preaching to you about peace, those that do not know peace have deprived you of peace. My children, do not hold a grudge on me. Do not think I am silent to your plight. I always weep for you. Lord, send your Judgement, or come down to us.”

You can read a translation of Pope Francis’ full address here.

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