Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The martyrdom of many Christians "with the complicit silence of many powers that could stop it”, was denounced by Pope Francis during his homily at Mass celebrated this morning in Casa Santa Marta, inspired by the Gospel story of the wrath of the scribes and Pharisees who discuss how to kill Jesus because he had performed a miracle on a Saturday.
Mass was concelebrated this morning with the new Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, Gregory Peter XX Ghabroyan (pictured), Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, and all the bishops of the Synod of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Church.
During his reflections, the Pope once again evoked the persecution suffered by Christians, even today, "perhaps more than in the early days": persecuted, killed, driven out, stripped just for being Christians. “Dear brothers and sisters, there is no Christianity without persecution. Remember the last of the Beatitudes: when they bring you into the synagogues, and persecute you, revile you, this is the fate of a Christian. Today too, this happens before the whole world, with the complicit silence of many powerful leaders who could stop it. We are facing this Christian fate: go on the same path of Jesus.”
The Pope recalled, “One of many great persecutions: that of the Armenian people”: “The first nation to convert to Christianity: the first. They were persecuted just for being Christians,” he said. “The Armenian people were persecuted, chased away from their homeland, helpless, in the desert.” This story - he observed - began with Jesus: what people did, “to Jesus, has during the course of history been done to His body, which is the Church.”
“Today,” the Pope continued, “I would like, on this day of our first Eucharist, as brother Bishops, dear brother Bishops and Patriarch and all of you Armenian faithful and priests, to embrace you and remember this persecution that you have suffered, and to remember your holy ones, your many saints who died of hunger, in the cold, under torture, [cast] into the wilderness only for being Christians.”
The Pontiff also remembered the broader persecution of Christians in the present day. “We now, in the newspapers, hear the horror of what some terrorist groups do, who slit the throats of people just because [their victims] are Christians. We think of the Egyptian martyrs, recently, on the Libyan coast, who were slaughtered while pronouncing the name of Jesus.”
Pope Francis prayed that the Lord might, “give us a full understanding, to know the Mystery of God who is in Christ,” and who, “carries the Cross, the Cross of persecution, the Cross of hatred, the Cross of that, which comes from the anger,” of persecutors – an anger that is stirred up by “the Father of Evil”:
“May the Lord, today, make us feel within the body of the Church, the love for our martyrs and also our vocation to martyrdom. We do not know what will happen here: we do not know. Only Let the Lord give us the grace, should this persecution happen here one day, of the courage and the witness that all Christian martyrs have shown, and especially the Christians of the Armenian people.”