ICC Note: an interesting insight into the reality of Christian persecution from
Islam. The Pope can’t mention who is persecuting Christians or where it is happening without causing more hatred and death.
Pope remembers Christians who suffer persecution and martyrdom in 21st century
Islam (Indian Catholic) Speaking from his study window in the Vatican at midday on Dec. 26, the day the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr, the pope spoke about the persecution and martyrdom of Christians from then until this very day.
“Not infrequently, in fact, even today,” he remarked, “news arrives from various parts of the world of missionaries, priests, bishops, men and women Religious, and lay faithful persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, deprived of their freedom or prevented from exercising it, because they are disciples of Christ and apostles of the Gospel.”
Pope Benedict did not name any country when he spoke about martyrdom and persecution. Some interpret this as prudence, to avoid aggravating the situations of Christians in the countries he has in mind, while others see it as normal Vatican diplomatic practice.
In any case, before he spoke he almost certainly had been informed of the attacks on Christians in the eastern Indian state of Orissa beginning on Dec. 24, because Vatican Radio reported these development in its news programs on Dec. 26, shortly after the pope spoke. More recent reports say at least two Christians have been killed in the continuing violence in Orissa, and at least 11 churches and many other Church institutions as well as Christian-owned shops and houses have been attacked, some of them burned, in several villages.
The pope went on to speak of Catholics who sometimes “suffer and die also for their communion with the universal Church and their fidelity to the pope.”
Pope Benedict said: “The Christian martyr, like Christ and in union with him, accepts the cross and death in the depths of his heart, and transforms it into an act of love. What on the outside is simply brutal violence, from within becomes an act of total self-giving love. Violence is thus transformed into love and death into life.”
Emphasizing that he was speaking not only of the past but also of the present, he added: “The Christian martyr makes the victory of love over hatred and death a reality today.”