Tag - Martyrs

Pope urges Japanese Bishops to build on the memory of their martyrs



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged Christians in Japan to face current challenges bearing in mind the witness of their many martyrs.

In a letter addressed to the Bishops of Japan, on the occasion of Cardinal Fernando Filoni’s pastoral journey to the Land of the Rising Sun, the Pope held up the memory of Japan’s many martyrs and ‘hidden Christians’ whom, he said, from the 17th to the mid-19th centuries lived clandestinely so as not to have to repudiate their faith.

Cardinal Filoni, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, has undertaken a pastoral journey to Japan lasting from 17 to 26 September. 

Japanese Christians facing current challenges

In the letter, the Pope pointed out that Japanese Christians are facing “the challenges that current times pose” and he invited them not to be “resigned”, nor to resort to “an irenic or paralyzing dialogue even although there are problematic situations that raise not few concerns.”   

Amongst the situations that arouse concern the Pope mentioned the “high rate of divorce” in Japan, “the number of suicides, even among young people”, the phenomenon of the ‘hikikomori’ – people who choose to live completely disconnected from society, “religious and spiritual formalism, moral relativism, indifference towards religion, an obsession for work and earning”.
    
It is also true, the Pope continued, that a society that is a frontrunner in economic development leaves many behind: the poor, the marginalized, the excluded – not only those who are excluded in a material sense, but also those who are spiritually and morally in need.

Need for constant renewal in the Church

Within this particular context, Francis pointed out that it is necessary and urgent that the Church in Japan be constantly renewed, always bearing in mind “Jesus’ mission which is salt and light”.

The Pope concluded pointing out that the true evangelical force of the Japanese Church stems from the fact that it has been a Church of martyrs and confessors of the faith, and this “is a great asset to be safe-guarded and developed.” 
   

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope says murdered Copts are martyrs and prays for conversion of terrorists



(Vatican Radio) On the second day running, Pope Francis has expressed his solidarity with Egypt’s Coptic Christians following an attack on a bus carrying Coptic pilgrims to a remote desert monastery.

Leading thousands of pilgrims in the Regina Caeli prayer in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, the Pope said he wished to express, yet again, his closeness to his dear brother, Pope Tawadros II and to the whole Egyptian nation that two days ago suffered “another act of ferocious violence.”

“The victims, amongst which were also children, were killed after having refused to renounce their Christian faith” he said.

The Pope prayed that the Lord “may welcome these courageous witnesses, these martyrs, in his peace and convert the hearts of the terrorists”.

The Islamic so-called State group claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack, which killed 29 people.

On Saturday during a visit to Genoa, Francis prayed for the victims and lamented that there were more martyrs today than in early Christian times.

 

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope: ‘a Church without martyrs breeds distrust’



(Vatican Radio) On the second anniversary of the beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was killed in 1980 by military squadrons linked to the Regime in San Salvador as he defended the poor, Pope Francis recalled Romero’s religious fervor and passion for justice while warning the faithful against a ‘lukewarm’ Church. 

The Pope was speaking during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta.

Listen to Linda Bordoni’s report: 



Pope Francis exhorted believers to leave comfort to the side and embrace an energetic lifestyle proclaiming Jesus with joy. 

He reflected on the liturgical reading of the day which tells the story of Paul and Silas in Philippi where they were followed by a slave girl with an oracular spirit who was shouting “These people are slaves of the Most High God”. This seemed like praise, the Pope said, but Paul became annoyed and cast out the spirit.  Paul understood, the Pope explained, that that was not the path to conversion of that city; it was not the Church of Christ. Everyone there accepted the doctrine, there were no conversions.

Similar situations, the Pope continued, have been repeated in the history of salvation: when the people of God are quiet, they do not take risks, but are servants of ‘worldliness’.

Then the Lord, he said, sent the prophets who – like Paul – were persecuted “because they made people uncomfortable.” 

“In the Church when someone cries out against the many ways of worldliness, they are given ‘the crooked eye’ as if something were wrong with them, and then they are distanced” he said.

Francis spoke of personal memories from his own homeland recalling many men and women, whom he said, were not supporters of an ideology but  “were good consecrated people” who spoke out saying “No, the Church of Jesus is like this….: they were branded as communists and persecuted” he said.

“Think of the Blessed Romero.What happened to him for having told the truth? And so many others in the history of the Church, even here in Europe. Why? Because the evil spirit prefers a tranquil, risk-free Church, a business-like Church, a comfortable and lukewarm Church” he said.

In chapter 16 of the Acts it is also said that the slaves of the slave were angry: they had lost their hope of earning money because the slave could no longer divine. 

“The evil one, the Pope warned, always starts from the pocket. When the Church is lukewarm, quiet, organized, when there are no problems, look to where business is to be made” he said.

Pope Francis also focused his homily, on joy. In fact, he told of how Paul and Silas were dragged by the slaves to the magistrates who ordered them to be beaten and then thrown into jail. The jailer threw them into the innermost part of the jail where the two men broke into song. Towards midnight a tremendous earthquake flung all the gates of the prison open.  The jailer was about to take his life because he would have been killed if the prisoners had escaped but Paul urged him not to do so because, he said, “we are all here”. Then the jailer asked for explanations and converted. He washed their sores, was baptized, and “was filled with joy”. 

This, the Pope said, is the path of our daily conversion: “to move from a worldly, tranquil, safe, Catholic” lukewarm yes, to the true proclamation of Jesus Christ; to the joy of ‘ Christ’s announcement. We must move, he said, from a religion that looks too much to earnings, to faith and to the proclamation that ‘Jesus is the Lord’.

This, Francis continued, is the miracle performed by the Holy Spirit, and he invited the faithful to read Chapter 16 of the Acts in order to see how the Lord “together with his martyrs” makes the Church move forward.

The Pope concluded his homily saying that a Church without martyrs breeds distrust; a Church that doesn’t take risks breeds distrust; a Church that is afraid of proclaiming Jesus Christ and of chasing out demons, idols and the lord of money is not Christ’s Church.

“Let us ask the Lord for the grace for renewed vigor in faith and conversion from a lukewarm way of life so we are able to make the joyful proclamation that Jesus is the Lord” he said.  

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope Francis: ‘martyrs are the living blood of the Church’

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday paid tribute to modern day martyrs whom he said “are the living blood of the Church”.

The Pope was presiding over a Liturgy of the Word at the Church of St. Bartholomew on the Tiber, a shrine to the martyrs of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Speaking during his homily, the Pope had words of closeness for the many Christian communities being persecuted today “because of the hatred of the spirit of this world”.

“How often, he said, in difficult moments of history, have we heard it said: ‘Today our country needs heroes’.? Likewise, we can ask, ‘Today what does our Church need?’ Martyrs, witnesses, that is, everyday saints of ordinary life, lives lived coherently; but we also need those who have the courage to accept the grace to be witnesses until the end, until death”.

He said that martyrs are “the witnesses who carry forward the Church; those who witness to the fact that Jesus is risen, that Jesus is alive, who witness to Him with coherent lives and with the strength of the Holy Spirit they have received as a gift”.

And, speaking off-the-cuff the Pope turned his attention to refugees who have been forced to flee their homelands because of their faith and said that many, today, find themselves in refugee camps, many of which he said, are like concentration camps, while international agreements seem to be more important than human rights.

Please find below Vatican Radio’s the full translation of the Pope’s homily:

We have come as pilgrims to this Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Tiber Island, where the ancient history of martyrdom joins the memory of the new martyrs, of many Christians killed by the insane ideologies of the last century, and killed only because they were disciples of Jesus.

The memory of these heroic, old and recent witnesses confirms us in the awareness that the Church is a Church of martyrs. And martyrs are those who, as the Book of Revelation reminds us, “Are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” They had the grace to confess Jesus until the end, until death. They suffered, they gave their lives, and we receive the blessing of God for their witness. And there are also many hidden martyrs, those men and women who are faithful to the gentle strength of love, to the voice of the Holy Spirit, those who in their daily lives seek to help their brothers and sisters and to love God without reserve.

If we look hard, we can see that the cause of every persecution is the hatred of the prince of this world toward those who have been saved and redeemed by Jesus through His death and resurrection. In the Gospel we just heard (cf. Jn 15: 12-19), Jesus uses a strong and frightening word: the word “hatred”. He, who is the master of love, who so enjoyed talking about love, speaks of hatred. But he always liked to call things by their name. And he tells us, “Do not be afraid! The world will hate you; but know that before it hated you, it hated me. ”

Jesus chose us and redeemed us as a free gift of His love. With His death and resurrection He redeemed us from the power of the world, from the power of the devil, from the power of the prince of this world. And the origin of hatred is this: since we are saved by Jesus, and the prince of the world does not want that, he hates us and encourages persecution, which from the time of Jesus and the birth of the Church continues to this day. How many Christian communities are being persecuted today! Why? Because of the hatred of the spirit of this world.

How often, in difficult moments of history, have we heard it said: “Today our country needs heroes.”? Likewise, we can ask, “Today what does our Church need?” Martyrs, witnesses, that is, everyday saints of ordinary life, lives lived coherently; but we also need those who have the courage to accept the grace to be witnesses until the end, until death. All these are the living blood of the Church. They are the witnesses who carry forward the Church; those who witness to the fact that Jesus is risen, that Jesus is alive, who witness to Him with coherent lives and with the strength of the Holy Spirit they have received as a gift.

Remembering these witnesses of the faith and praying in this place is a great gift. It is a gift for the Community of Sant’Egidio, for the Church in Rome, for all the Christian communities of this city, and for so many pilgrims. The living legacy of martyrs today gives us peace and unity. They teach us that with the strength of love, with gentleness, one can fight against arrogance, violence, and war – and that peace can be achieved with patience.

And so we can pray: O Lord, make us worthy witnesses of the Gospel and of your love; pour out your mercy upon humanity; renew your Church, protect persecuted Christians, grant peace to the whole world, soon.

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis to celebrate Liturgy of Word for ‘New Martyrs’



(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis will celebrate a special Liturgy of the Word in memory of the “New Martyrs” of the 20th and 21st centuries on Saturday, 22 April.

A communique from the Holy See Press Office said the prayer will take place in the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Tiberian Island, which is located in the heart of Rome on the Tiber River.

The Liturgy of the Word celebration is organized by the Sant’Egidio Community and takes place at 5 PM.

A separate communique released by the Sant’Egidio Community said the Basilica of St. Bartholomew held special significance:

“The Pope’s prayer in a place, which – since the Jubilee of 2000, at John Paul II’s behest – contains the memoirs of contemporary martyrs, takes on a very special significance in these times marked by the suffering of so many Christians in the world and by the light of Easter.”

(from Vatican Radio)



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