Lebanon: A Bishop killed for refusing to convert to Islam beatified as a “martyr”

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Christians persecuted in the world

A Bishop who refused to convert to Islam and was killed for this refusal beatified as a martyr.

According to media reports, Bishop Flavianus Michael Malke (Melki) was beaten and beheaded after he refused to convert to Islam. He was beatified as a martyr on August 29 at the Patriarchal Convent of Our Lady of Deliverance in Harissa, Lebanon.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, told the Vatican Radio that “today, as it was 100 years ago, darkness has fallen in many countries of ancient Christian civilization: the faithful are discriminated against, persecuted, expelled, killed; their houses are not marked with the blood of the Passover lamb to be saved, but with the red ‘Nu,’ for Nasrani or ‘one belonging to the Nazarene,’ meaning Christians, as the mark of their sentence.”

“As it was one hundred years ago, at the time of the martyrdom of Bishop Melki, Christians are denied every liberty, they are forced to leave their homeland, or to convert or die,” he added. “In fact, death reigns supreme in the persecutors’ minds and hearts of stone, who cannot stand the Christian civilization of liberty, respect for others, fraternity, justice, charity.”

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Moreover, on August 30 Pope Francis paid tribute to Bishop Flavianus Michael Malke (Melki) saying,“In the context of a terrible persecution of Christians, he was a tireless defender of the rights of his people, urging all to remain firm in the faith,” the Pope told the crowds that had gathered in St. Peter’s Square. “Even today, dear brothers and sisters, in the Middle East and other parts of the world, Christians are persecuted. There are more martyrs than there were in the first centuries.”

“May the beatification of this bishop-martyr instill in them consolation, courage, and hope,” he added. “Let it also be a stimulus to legislators and government leaders to insure religious freedom everywhere, and to the international community to put an end to violence and oppression.”

Bishop Flavianus Michael Malke (Melki) was born in 1858, and ordained to the priesthood in 1883 and was ordained the Syriac Catholic bishop of Gazireh (now Cizre, Turkey) in 1913. He perished two years later in the Assyrian genocide.