21 April, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 12/26/2009 13:41
VATICAN
On St Stephen’s, we remember believers who are tested or suffer because of their faith, Pope says
Benedict XVI highlights the trials and suffering believers endure in many parts of the world. In Asia, Christians suffer persecution or limits to their mission in at least 32 countries (out of 52). Stephen marks the start of the civilisation of love, which forgives persecutors, but does “not surrender to evil.” St Stephen’s commitment to the poor is also a privileged way to bear witness to the Gospel.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Feast of St Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, is celebrated the day after Christmas. “It reminds us . . . that many believers in various parts of the world are suffering because of their faith,” Pope Benedict XVI said during today’s Angelus in St Peter’s Square, all decorated for the Christmas celebrations, with a big crèche and a huge Christmas tree.

The Pope did not mention any country in particular, but yesterday during the Urbi et Orbi blessing he referred to the difficulties Christians face in the Holy Land, Iraq, Sri Lanka, the Korean peninsula, Congo and Latin America.

In Asia, out of 52 countries, at least 32 limit Christians’ mission in some ways. Muslim countries (from the Middle East to Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia) make it hard for people to convert to Christianity; India and Sri Lanka are increasingly pushing for anti-conversion laws; Central Asian nations (except for Kazakhstan) limit religious freedom; the Communist countries (China, Laos Vietnam and North Korea) stifle or even persecute the Church.

As the Pontiff continued his address, he called on every Christian to entrust their persecuted brothers to the protection of St Stephen. “Let us commit ourselves to support them with our prayers and not fail in our Christian vocation, always placing Jesus Christ at the centre of our life, which these days we contemplate in the simplicity and humility of the crèche.”

However, the celebration of St Stephen’s martyrdom does not remind us only of violence, for he, “like his Master, dies forgiving his persecutors. This makes us understand that the entry of the Son of God into the world gives rise to a new civilisation, a civilisation of love that does not surrender to evil and violence, but breaks down barriers between men, making them brothers in the great family of the sons of God.”

In addition, Stephen was one of the first deacons, who, in handing out help to the poor of Jerusalem, became a “servant of the poor”, the Pope said.

In concluding, the Pope noted, “Stephen’s testimony, like that of [other] Christian martyrs, shows to our contemporaries, who are often distracted and disoriented, on whom we should place our trust in order to give meaning to life. The martyr in fact is the one who dies with the certainty that he is loved by God, and who, putting nothing before the love of Christ, knows that he chose the better side. Basing himself fully on the death of Christ, he is aware that he is the fruitful seed of life that can open paths for peace and hope in the world. Today, by presenting us the deacon St Stephen as a model to follow, the Church is also showing us, in welcoming and loving the poor, one of the privileged ways to live the Gospel and credibly bear witness of the coming Kingdom of God to all men.”


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
12/26/2006 VATICAN
Entrusting to Mary all the martyrs and the persecuted for the Gospel, Pope says
12/26/2005 VATICAN
Pope: St Stephen, the Christian faith and martyrs' heroism
12/19/2004 VATICAN
May the Christmas tree teach us to give ourselves, says the Pope
06/29/2011 VATICAN
Peter’s primacy and the priestly vocation are divine preferences, pope says
11/01/2008 VATICAN
Pope: Company of saints helps us conquer all fear and tribulation

Editor's choices
ITALY - ASIA
Easter, victory over death and impotence
by Bernardo Cervellera
SYRIA
I will miss you Fr Frans, you inspired us all, says Syrian Jesuit
by Tony Homsy*A young priest from the Society of Jesus remembers the life and work of Fr Frans van der Lugt, who was killed in Homs after he refused to abandon residents beleaguered by hunger and war. "He gave and continues to give everything for the Church, Syria, and peace. His story and qualities made him an exceptional missionary and witness to the Gospel." Reprinted courtesy of 'The Jesuit Post'.
FRANCE - IRAQ
Chaldean Patriarch on the uncertain future of eastern Christians, a bridge between the West and Islam
by Mar Louis Raphael I SakoThe wars in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan have made things worse for their peoples, especially minorities. As Western policies have been a failure, fundamentalism has grown with the Arab Spring losing out to extremism. Muslim authorities have a role in protecting rights and religious freedom. The presence of Christians in the Middle East is crucial for Muslims.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.