More Christian martyrs today than in ancient times

More Christian martyrs today than in ancient times

GENOA, Italy (AP) — Pope Francis prayed Saturday for the Coptic Christians killed a day earlier in Egypt by Islamic extremists, saying that there are more Christian martyrs today than in ancient times.

During a meeting with clergy in the Italian port city of Genoa, Francis urged them to pray "for our brothers the Egyptian Copts, who were killed because they did not want to renounce their faith."

"Let's not forget that today there are more Christian martyrs than in ancient times, than in the early day times of the church," Francis told bishops, priests and nuns gathered in the Cathedral of San Lorenzo.

Twenty-nine people died in the attack Friday on Christians traveling to a monastery south of Cairo. The attack, which took place on the eve of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, was the fourth to target Egypt's Christian minority since December.

The Egyptian Cabinet says 13 victims wounded in the attack remain hospitalized.

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi blamed the attack on suspected Islamic State group extremists in Libya.

After Francis visited Egypt last month, IS vowed to escalate attacks against Christians and urged Muslims to steer clear of Christian gatherings and Western embassies.

Franklin Graham, CEO of both Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association responded to the news asking believers to join him in prayer for the Coptic Christians.  

"I cannot imagine what the families of the 26 Coptic Christians who were murdered in cold blood by Islamists today in Cairo, Egypt, are feeling. It's an evil and wicked belief system that allows and encourages the killing of innocent people. Join me in praying for these devastated families and for all those who were wounded."

Photo: Egypt bus massacre, May 2017 (AP)

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The Latest: Leaders condemn Egypt Copts attack

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