Pope Francis says the Bible is "a highly dangerous book" due to the fact that so many people in the world are arrested or murdered for owning one.
In a prologue that is part of a youth Bible slated for publication this week, the pontiff wrote about the dangers of having a Bible, according to the Catholic publication Aleteia.
"There are more persecuted Christians in the world today than in the early days of the Church. And why are they persecuted? They are persecuted because they wear a cross and bear witness to Jesus. They are convicted because they own a Bible," wrote Francis.
"The Bible is therefore a highly dangerous book — so dangerous that you are treated in some countries as if you were hiding hand grenades in your closet."
Francis also spoke about his fond memories of his personal Bible, which he has owned for half of his life, and also exhorted people to read the Bible.
"So you have something divine in your hands: a book like fire! A book through which God speaks. So notice: The Bible is not meant to be placed on a shelf, but to be in your hands, to read often — every day, both on your own and together with others," continued Francis.
"You do sports together or go shopping together. Why not read the Bible together as well — two, three, or four of you? In nature, in the woods, on the beach, at night in the glow of a few candles … you will have a great experience!"
Francis' prologue was to the newest edition of the Youcat Bible, a German language youth-focused version of the Good Book.
Earlier this month, Youcat reported that after much work the latest edition was printed and ready for wide distribution.
"A work of several years and with a team of more that 70 persons has finally and successfully been completed. And now the book can go global," said Youcat on its website.
"We are looking forward for many translation requests at the upcoming book fair in Frankfurt. Do not hesitate to visit us at the YOUCAT stand in hall 3.1, number B142 from Oct. 14 - 18 and have a first look into the book!"
Francis' words about the Bible being such a dangerous book come as groups like Open Doors USA have noted a growing trend of persecution for Christians even in nominally Christian countries.
David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, noted this back in January during the release of the group's annual World Watch List documenting worst persecutors of Christians.
"Even Christian-majority states are experiencing unprecedented levels of exclusion, discrimination and violence," said Curry in a statement.
"The 2015 World Watch List reveals that a staggering number of Christians are becoming victims of intolerance and violence because of their faith. They are being forced to be more secretive about their faith."