14 May 2023

The Coptic Martyrs

A few weeks ago, I published the following. Naturally, therefore, I welcome the recent, reported decision of the Roman Pontiff to incorporate the New Coptic Martyrs in the Roman Martyrology.

I devoutly hope that PF may be a big enough man to permit liturgical texts in honour of these martyrs to be sanctioned for those of us who use the Authentic Form of the Roman Rite.

In the fine CDF documents Communionis notio and Dominus Iesus, the Church's Magisterium clarified the position of those Christian bodies which possess true ministry and Sacraments. This clarification most certainly not imply, as some people have foolishly argued, that "the Orthodox Church" is a "sister Church" of "the Catholic Church". Nor does it mean that "the Moskow Patriarchate" is "a sister Church" of the "Latin Church".

By "particular Church", what is meant is a Church constituted organically with a Bishop, his presbyterate, his diaconate, and all the holy People of God. That is a true Church by divine right, and, incidentally, this is why from time to time it becomes necessary to remind everybody that Catholic ecclesiology has no place for "national Churches" (or even sinicisation); and views with justified suspicion any movements towards giving Episcopal Conferences anything other than minimal and practical functions. As Cardinal Mueller once wisely said, we must never think of the Chairpersons of Episcopal Conferences as any sort of vice-popes. Nor, as he made clear, must Conferences and their bureaucracies come between the Diocesan Bishop and the Bishop of Rome, each of whom (unlike the Conferences) is iure divino.

What this definition of "Particular Church" does mean is, for example, that the ["Orthodox"] Diocese of S Petersburg, and the diocese of Brentwood, are true sister Churches; it being understood that the Diocese of S Petersburg is a true particular Church but "wounded" by its separation from the See of S Peter; and the Diocese of Brentwood is wounded by the schism which hinders the Catholic Church from realising and manifesting the complete fulfillment of her universality in history.

This, I think, is why we need have no hesitation in recognising those Coptic peasants who, murmuring the Name of their and our Redeemer, had their throats cut on that Mediterranean beach, as being truly "our" martyrs.


Pulex said...

It seems to me that this post contains some "non sequitur". The fact that Coptic Church (separated from Rome) is a "true particular church" has in itself no bearing on whether those 21 murdered Christians can be considered martyrs by Catholics. They were externally members of a heretical and schismatic religious body, and about such persons the Council of Florence has said a thing or two. Surely, the Council's declaration should be read with Lambertini's distinguo in mind (Saints in view of the Church vs. Saints before God). Nevertheless, they needed to be in a state of invincible/excusable ignorance regarding the true Church, and this was possible both for the Copts and the Protestant among them.

William Tighe said...

Pulex wrote:

"The fact that Coptic Church (separated from Rome) is a 'true particular church' ..."

The very fact that you can write this about "the Coptic Church" in general demonstrates that you have completely failed to grasp Fr. Hunwicke's point.

Albertus said...

Seeing the de facto ever-increasingly-heretical state of the post-conciliar Roman Church (whereof i am a baptised, confirmed, and ordained member), i cannot, dare not, in conscience call the members of any eastern / oriental orthodox Church, nor their particular Churches themselves, heretical. We who live in glass houses should not cast stones.

PastorWeisner said...

Thank you, Father Albertus; thank you, Dr. Tighe.

frjustin said...

Now that the Roman Pontiff has incorporated the New Coptic Martyrs in the Roman Martyrology, the following norm from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal comes into play (GIRM, Chapter VII, the Choice of the Mass and Its Parts, No.355, c):

c. On weekdays in Ordinary Time, there may be chosen either the Mass of the weekday,
or the Mass of an Optional Memorial which happens to occur on that day, OR THE MASS OF ANY SAINT INSCRIBED IN THE MARTYROLOGY FOR THAT DAY, or a Mass for Various Needs, or a Votive Mass.

The Vatican will likely designate February 15 as the feast of the Coptic Martyrs, the same day the Coptic Orthodox Church honors them. Pending confirmation from the Holy See, therefore, and assuming that February 15 is a weekday in Ordinary Time, Novus Ordo Masses may be celebrated in honor of the Coptic Martyrs on that day, using the Common of Several Martyrs, until proper liturgical texts are provided.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Catholic Dictionary

Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

Your Term:


A person who chooses to suffer, even to die, rather than renounce his or her faith or Christian principles. After the example of Christ one does not resist one's persecutors when they use violence out of hatred or malice against Christ, or his Church, or some revealed truth of the Catholic religion. (Etym. Greek martyros, witness, martyr.)


Not a few of us Catholics find ourselves flummoxed by the constant changes in definitions and discipline. Writing for my own self, I don't understand how a person who is not a catholic can be considered one who suffered for "his" faith, particularly considering that "his" faith is not the Christian Faith once delivered.

The Coptic have their own saints, right?

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. https://tinyurl.com/mr33e8dy

From the get go, us Catholics have been warned not to accept novelties, from The Apostles (See "On Divine Tradition" by John Baptist Cardinal Franzelin, S.J., to the Bible to St Vincent of Lerins (Commonitory) to Popes and their teachings (Denzingers) to the praxis and actualised ecclesiological tradition of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Those listed in The Roman Martyrology are Catholic Saints - Even the 131 or so who received the modern sacramental of defenestration by Paul VI.

After the latest novelty of Bergoglio, the Orthodox Copts killed by Muslims ( a religion of peace) are now, putatively, catholic saints.

I guess we are just supposed to accept this latest novelty with pacific alacrity.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. One last thing.

Ecumenism is the universal solvent of Tradition, as can be seen here.


Are Catholics ready for protestants, like Martin Luther King, to be added to The Roman Martyrology?

It's a question of when not if.

Eric said...

The Copts are not heretics. The schism of 451 occurred as much because for reasons of imperial politics as any real doctrinal division and probably much more. And then it was cemented by the Arab conquest of Egypt that cut Alexandria off from the rest of the Christian world until the 19th century.

For anyone who is interested here is a very good presentation by a Coptic priest on the Church of Alexandria's understanding of Chalcedon and everything that happened because of it.


El Codo said...

A beautiful piece, Father. As one who lived in Egypt for a year while reading Modern and Classical Arabic, I can testify to the deep faith and strength of the Copts. Martyrs of Egypt, orate pro nobis.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

I'm being told by Catholics that The Copts are jake and have no heresies.

All I know is what I read about their beliefs that they tell the world


Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Those in The Roman Martyrology are they whose cult is officially recognised and they are proposed as models worthy of imitation and that now includes non-Catholics who are worthy of imitation.

Father Jacques Hamel was killed by members of the religion of peace as he was celebrating mass. They made him kneel at the foot of the altar and slit his throat while yelling Allahu Akbar.

Did P.F. immediately declare him a member of the Roman Martyrology?

OK, Father. I'm done with this topic. Thanks for your patience.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. Sorry, I keep discovering truths warring against the widely praised action of P.F.

14. Even if such men were slain in confession of the Name, that stain is not even washed away by blood: the inexpiable and grave fault of discord is not even purged by suffering. He cannot be a martyr who is not in the Church; he cannot attain unto the kingdom who forsakes that which shall reign there. Christ gave us peace; He bade us be in agreement, and of one mind. He charged the bonds of love and charity to be kept uncorrupted and inviolate; he cannot show himself a martyr who has not maintained brotherly love. Paul the apostle teaches this, and testifies, saying, “And though I have faith, so that I can remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I give all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing. Charity is magnanimous; charity is kind; charity envies not; charity acts not vainly, is not puffed up, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; loves all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Charity never fails.” “Charity,” says he, “never fails.” For she will ever be in the kingdom, she will endure for ever in the unity of a brotherhood linked to herself. Discord cannot attain to the kingdom of heaven; to the rewards of Christ, who said, “This is my commandment that you love one another even as I have loved you: ” John 15:12 he cannot attain who has violated the love of Christ by faithless dissension. He who has not charity has not God. The word of the blessed Apostle John is: “God,” says he, “is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God dwells in him.” 1 John 4:16 They cannot dwell with God who would not be of one mind in God's Church. Although they burn, given up to flames and fires, or lay down their lives, thrown to the wild beasts, that will not be the crown of faith, but the punishment of perfidy; nor will it be the glorious ending of religious valour, but the destruction of despair. Such a one may be slain; crowned he cannot be. He professes himself to be a Christian in such a way as the devil often feigns himself to be Christ, as the Lord Himself forewarns us, and says, “Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.” Mark 13:6 As he is not Christ, although he deceives in respect of the name; so neither can he appear as a Christian who does not abide in the truth of His Gospel and of faith.


Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dea Father. OK, I'm done doing a search on thei matter:

Council of Florence: Denzinger 714:

714 It firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart "into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels" [Matt. 25:41], unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.

frjustin said...

At the conclusion of an essay entitled: "Baptism of Blood - Honoring the Coptic Martyrs" in the March, 2019 issue of "First Things", Martin Mosebach writes:

"The Martyrologium Romanum lists August 30 as the feast of the holy martyrs Felix and Adauctus. ­Felix was likely a Roman citizen sentenced to death in 303 during the Diocletian Persecution. On the way to his execution, he was spotted by an unknown man. Moved by the sight of Felix in chains, the man professed his own Christian faith on the spot. He was then executed alongside Felix and, because his name remained unknown, is venerated as Saint Adauctus, “the added man.” The twenty Copts martyred on the beach in Libya also had an Adauctus among them: the young black man, Matthew Ayariga, who was abducted along with them—he came not from Egypt but from Ghana.

"The kidnappers, I was told, thought he wasn’t a Christian and wanted to let him go. But he didn’t think it just: Whether he was Catholic, Protestant, or belonged to another Christian sect didn’t matter. The kidnappers had to take his word for it—he was a Christian, and said so, and that was enough for them to kill him alongside the others.

"Had Matthew survived and expressed a desire to be accepted as a Copt, he would have had to undergo baptism again. Like many Orthodox churches, the Coptic Church doesn’t recognize baptisms performed by other churches. So is Matthew simply an unbaptized person who somehow became a saint? Not at all. By his willingness to die alongside his Coptic companions, he received baptism on the Libyan seaside. His own blood took the place of both the holy water and the priest’s christening in the sacrament."


As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: 1258 "The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament." CCC No 1258


Other non-Catholics have previously been added to the Roman Martyrology, including (in 2001) the 11th-century saints Theodosius and Anthony of Pečerska, and the 14th-century saints Stephen of Perm and Sergius of Radonezh.

frjustin said...

Pope Francis’s addition also follows the recognition that Catholic Copts gave the Martyrs of Libya, whose bishops heartily welcomed Pope Tawadros’s 2015 canonization of the Martyrs in the Coptic Orthodox Church of which he is the head.

“The Church in Egypt has been strengthened by the murder of our brothers in Libya,” the Coptic Catholic Bishop of Sohag, Youssef Aboul-Kheir, told Aid to the Church in Need mere days after the mass beheading. “[T]hey are true martyrs—for us Catholics as well,” Kyrillos Samaan, the Coptic Catholic Bishop of Assiut in Egypt, told ACN in March of 2015, a little over a month after the Coptic Orthodox canonization.