The elevation of Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio to His Holiness, Pope Francis I, yesterday afternoon was an historic day. He is the first Pope born outside of Europe since the papacy of Pope Gregory III in 731 A.D., and the first one to become Pope following a papal resignation in six centuries. He will now serve as Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, and Sovereign of the State of Vatican City. All Christians, whether Roman Catholic or not, will pray for God’s protection and blessings on the continued ministry of His Holiness.
Less known was the burial yesterday in southern Egypt of Ezzat Atallah, an Egyptian Christian. Mr. Atallah recently died in prison in Libya after he was detained by Islamic militants for sharing his Christian faith in Libya. Mr. Atallah lived in Libya for many years. Few details have emerged about his death, however. The Associated Press reported that Mr. Atallah was tortured by Islamic militants in Benghazi, Libya, for eleven days. Then, Mr. Atallah was transferred to Tripoli, where his wife was able to visit him. She reported signs of torture on his body, and he told her that he had been beaten, hung by ropes, and whipped. Media reports indicated that as many as 100 others, most of whom are Egyptian, are being held in Benghazi by Islamic militias for sharing their Christian faith. The detainees also include a Swedish-American, a South Korean, and a South African.
Two men were elevated yesterday. One rightfully received the accolades of the entire world. Mr. Atallah, a brother in Christ less known by the world, and about whom the world was unworthy, was also elevated. In his case, he came into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, where he was lovingly received by our Lord with the words from St. Matthew’s Gospel 25:23, “Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share your master’s happiness!” Peace to the memory of the blessed martyr Ezzat Atallah. Please pray for our Christian brothers and sisters detained in Libya, and for Mr. Atallah’s family.