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    » 04/07/2008, 00.00

    VATICAN

    Who suffers because of the Gospel acts with a “strength that the world does not know,” says Pope



    In celebrating the Witnesses of the faith of the 20th and 21st centuries, Benedict XVI spoke about the many Christians who shed their blood to assert that “[w]hen Christians are yeast, light and salt of the earth, they too become subject of persecution as was Jesus.” The Sant’Egidio community celebrate 40 years.

    Rome (AsiaNews) – “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of new Christians,” are the famous words by Tertullian which Benedict XVI repeated today in order to celebrate the Word in Memory of the Witnesses of the Faith in the 20th and 21st centuries.

    “In the defeat and humiliation of those who suffer because of the Gospel there is strength that the world does not know,” he said. “It is the strength of love, helpless and victorious even over the apparent defeat. It is the strength that defies and defeats death.”

    In Rome’s San Bartolomeo all'Isola Basilica on Tiber Island, which John Paul II dedicated to the memory of the martyrs of the 20th century, the Pope reflected upon “those willing to sacrifice their life for the Kingdom.” For him ‘this way we become friends of Christ; we conform to Him, accepting the extreme sacrifice, without limitations to giving love in the service of the faith.”

    “Stopping at the six altars devoted to Christians who fell under the totalitarian violence of Communism, Nazism, killed in the Americas, Asia and Oceania, in Spain and Mexico, and in Africa, we ideally retrace the painful events of the past century. So many died as they fulfilled the Church’s evangelising mission. Their blood is mixed with that of indigenous Christians to whom the faith was communicated. Others, often living in a minority situation, were killed out of hatred for the faith. Lastly quite a few immolated themselves so as not abandon the needy, the poor, the faithful in their charge, fearing no danger. So many, they are!”

    “Even the 21st century began in the sign of martyrdom. When Christians are yeast, light and salt of the earth, they too become the object of persecution as did Jesus. Like Him they are ‘signs of contradiction’. Fraternal co-existence, love, faith and choosing the weak and the poor, which marks the existence of the Christian community, often rouse violent loathing. How useful it is to look at the bright witness of those who came before us in the sign of a heroic faithfulness that can lead to martyrdom!”

    Today’s celebration is to honour the 40th anniversary of the Sant’Egidio community to whom John Paul II entrusted the basilica on Tiber Island. All of the community’s leaders, including its founder, Andrea Riccardi, were present.

    “The Word of God, love for the Church, preference for the poor, communicating the Gospel are the stars that guided you, witnessing under different skies the one and only message of Christ. I thank you for your apostolic work; I thank your for caring for those who come last and for searching peace, which sets your community apart.”

    “Be builders of peace and reconciliation among those who are enemies or fight each other.”

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    See also

    06/02/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: Lent,"an occasion to make our hope more vibrant and firm"
    Nothing nourishes hope better than prayer, "the engine of the world", "because nothing expresses the reality of God in our lives better than prayer with faith". But suffering also moves in the same direction, because it opens the way to participating in the consolation of God.

    01/03/2006 VATICAN
    The Pope: Lent is a time to oppose goodness to evil, the truth to lies and love to hatred
    In celebrating Ash Wednesday mass, Benedict XVI talks about the struggle against evil and urges the faithful to practice charity.

    17/02/2010 VATICAN
    Personal and communal conversion, only path to build fairer societies, Pope says
    As he celebrated Ash Wednesday, Benedict XVI said that following “Christ in the desert is the necessary condition to partake in his Pascha”. Ashes remind us that man is “dust, loved by God,” and that “first act of justice is to recognise our own wickedness, rooted in the heart, the centre of the human person.”

    01/01/2008 VATICAN
    In the name of Mary, peace among peoples, God’s only family, said Pope
    In expressing his best wishes for the New Year, Benedict XVI calls on the world to rediscover God and build solidarity among peoples as one family. He sends special greetings to the Italian president and all Church communities, like Sant’Egidio’s, who have sponsored initiatives for World Day of Peace.

    29/06/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: Rome, unity and mission to all peoples at feast of Peter and Paul
    Benedict XVI emphasises the mission of the two apostles, and that of the see of Rome, to emphasise the unity and universality of the Catholic faith. Also present Bartholomew I, patriarch of Constantinople, in Rome for the beginning of the Pauline Year. The pontiff gave 40 archbishops the pallium, sign of Christ's "care" for humanity and of collegial communion with the pope.



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