Pope Francis Says Believers Are Suffering, Martyred for the Gospel as World Ignores Persecution of Christians

Pope Francis
Pope Francis blesses the missal as he leads a mass on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian mass killings, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 12, 2015. Pope Francis on Sunday commemorated the 100th anniversary of the massacre of as many as 1.5 million Armenians as "the first genocide of the 20th century." Words that could draw an angry reaction from Turkey. |

In a recent letter to Archbishop Maroun Lahham, a Catholic leader considered to be the vicar of the Patriarch of Latin America, Pope Francis stressed the severity of the persecution that many Christians are enduring throughout the world as their neighbors remain silent about the atrocities.

Francis' letter stated that today's persecution against Christians, which often comes from radical Islamic groups such as the Islamic State and Boko Haram, is being carried out "before the eyes and in the silence of all."

"They are the martyrs of today, humiliated and discriminated against because of their fidelity to the Gospel," wrote Francis.

The pope also pointed out that Christians have become victims of "fanaticism and intolerance" throughout the world, and pushed for society to recognize the intense persecution that believers have endured in recent years.

"In turn, world opinion can be more attentive, sensitive and sympathetic [in the] face of persecution carried out against Christians and, more generally of religious minorities," said Francis, according to a translation of the letter. "It renews the hope that the international community does not assist [and is] mute and inert in the face of this unacceptable crime, which is an alarming human rights [problem] and is the most essential and prevents the richness of coexistence among peoples, cultures and faiths."

The pope has been speaking out against the persecution of Christians more frequently in recent months.

In one of his homilies from June, the pontiff likened the persecution of Christians in today's world to that of the first century Church.

He said first century Christians were "harshly persecuted by Herod who laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the Church … proceeded to arrest Peter also … and when he had seized him he put him in prison."

The pontiff added: "these atrocious inhuman and incomprehensible persecutions [are] still present in many parts of the world today, often under the silent gaze of all. ... How many forces in the course of history have tried, and still do, to destroy the Church, from without as well as within, but they themselves are destroyed and the Church remains alive and fruitful.

"Prayer is the encounter with God, with God who never lets us down; with God who is faithful to His Word; with God who does not abandon His children."

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