Pope Francis celebrated his first canonizations in the course of his Mass in St. Peter's Square last Sunday, giving the Catholic Church over 800 new saints. All but two (a Colombian nun and a Mexican nun) were the "martyrs of Otranto," who were beheaded for their faith after Turkish Muslims invaded their southern-Italian port city in 1480
Last week in Egypt, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II delivered an unprecedented condemnation of the escalating religious attacks there against Coptic Christians: "The church has been a national symbol for 2,000 years," he told a television interviewer.
In September 2005, a middle-aged woman was taken by state security officials from her home in North Korea's North Pyongan Province. She was put under arrest and taken to a local farm, where government officials had assembled in the threshing area to carry out her punishment.
Pope Francis I should be a strong defender of persecuted religious believers of all faiths. The world is in dire need of such leadership.
Tanzania is the latest in a growing number of African countries to be struggling with escalating Islamist terror. In this country of 45 million people, over 60 percent of whom are Christian, church leaders are the canaries in the coalmine. On Sunday, 55-year-old Catholic priest Father Evarist Mushi was shot dead by assailants on a motorcycle in front of Zanzibar's St. Joseph's Cathedral just before Sunday morning Mass. According to the Pontifical news agency Fides, local bishops and priests received a message claiming responsibility from a group calling itself "Muslim Renewal."
In Syria's rebellion, no religious or ethnic group has been spared horrific levels of loss and suffering, but its 2,000-year-old Christian minority is now facing a distinct persecution.