Pope Francis has recently spoken up about anti-Christian persecution, warning missionaries of the Roman Catholic faith that spreading the Gospel to the world involves suffering and the dangers of ridicule and contempt.
The Pope was addressing thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Sunday, June 25, for the weekly Angelus prayer, when he talked about the fact that Christians still get persecuted even in modern times for following Christ.
"We pray for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted, and praise God because, despite this, they continue to testify to their faith with their courage and fidelity," Francis said, according to Crux.
Pope Francis also raised the martyrdom of Archbishop Teofilius Matulionis of Lithuania as an example. The archbishop was imprisoned several times by the Soviets during his lifetime and eventually met his demise in 1962 at the age of 90. He was beatified in his home country on Sunday.
"We give praise to God for the witness of this strenuous defender of the faith and of the dignity of man," the Pope said.
The Pope's reflection focused on Sunday's Gospel in which Jesus tasked his disciples to serve as missionaries of the faith, and warned and prepared them for the "tribulations and persecutions" that they would face along the way.
"There is no such thing as Christian mission marked by tranquility," Pope Francis said. "Difficulties and tribulation are part of the work of evangelization and we are called to find in these things an occasion to ensure the authenticity of our faith and our relationship with Jesus."
In modern times, Christians are among the most persecuted religious groups all over the world. An estimated number of 200 million Christians reportedly face active persecution on a regular basis. Persecution of those of Christian faith has been rampant in countries like North Korea, China and the nations in the Middle East. However, violence and persecution against Christians are reportedly just as likely to occur even in the most peaceful places.