Pope Francis ordered the compilation of the Christian martyrs of our times
"The number of martyrs who sacrificed their lives for Christ and the testimony of the Gospel is higher in current times than in the first centuries of Christianity," wrote Pope Francis in the document released on Wednesday, in which he ordered the compilation of martyrs who have died in the past quarter century.
Pope Francis has established a separate committee within the Vatican office responsible for canonizations. The task of the working group, named “New Martyrs – Witnesses of the Faith,” is to compile a list of those who shed their blood for Christ and the testimony of the Gospel in the past quarter century. The papal document emphasizes that the catalog-like work is not limited to Catholic martyrs.
According to Pope Francis’s directive, the compilation of martyrs in the modern era is considered preparation for the 2025 jubilee holy year. “Martyrs have been present in every age of the Church’s life (..) In our time, there are more of them than in the first centuries: bishops, priests, religious sisters and monks, laypeople and their families, who, by sacrificing their lives, bear witness to the highest degree of love in various countries of the world,” wrote Pope Francis.
He added that in our time, Christians do not renounce witnessing to the life-giving power of baptism, even in the most dangerous situations.
“There are many who, aware of the dangers threatening them, practice their faith or participate in the Sunday Eucharist. Others are killed while working diligently to help the lives of the poor in love, care for those marginalized by society, and advocate for the gift of peace and the power of forgiveness. Others are silent victims of historical upheavals, individuals or groups. We owe a great debt to all of them, and we must not forget them,” emphasized Pope Francis.
In addition to officially recognized Christian martyrs acknowledged by the Church, the committee established by the Holy Father must also investigate lesser-known or hitherto unnamed martyrs with the assistance of local churches, Christian communities, and other institutions.
Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, has been appointed as the head of the committee by the Pope. Andrea Ricciardi, a history professor and founder of the “Sant’Egidio” community, has been appointed as the vice president, and Father Marco Gnavi, who has been involved in this issue since 2000, serves as the secretary of the committee. The fourteen-member working group includes several priests from developing countries.