Christians are still persecuted and killed for their faith in today’s world
Just as two thousand years ago, Christians who sacrifice their lives for their faith are still persecuted today - said Pope Francis on the feast of the first martyr, Saint Stephen.
Pope Francis pointed out that persecution against Christians continues today, “many suffer and die for their faith in Christ.” Pope Francis added that Christians also face discrimination simply for living according to the teachings of the Gospel. “It is difficult to remain faithful in everyday life to our own commitment, without loud proclamation, while the world makes fun of it and preaches something else,” Pope Francis noted. He added that from the outside, it may seem as though the efforts of Christian brethren are doomed to failure, but their sacrifice is like a seed that germinates, as it did in the time of Saint Stephen, and is capable of changing hearts and saving people.
“Let us ask ourselves: how much do we care and how much do we pray for those who are still suffering and dying for their faith in different parts of the world today?” the Pope asked. Pope Francis expressed his closeness to Christian communities suffering discrimination and encouraged them to persevere in practicing love for all, peacefully fighting for justice and religious freedom.
He sought the intercession of the martyr for peoples tormented by war. ‘The mass media show what war causes: we saw it in Syria, we see it in Gaza. Think of martyred Ukraine. The desert of death. Is this what we want? Peoples want peace. Let’s pray for peace. Let’s fight for peace,’ said Pope Francis.
According to a Tuesday report by the American organization Open Doors, which follows the situation of persecuted Christians, at least 160 people were killed in mostly Christian villages in Nigeria’s Plateau state on December 24, and a further 300 people were injured in armed attacks by Muslim armed groups. According to the organization’s data this year, the number of persecuted Christians worldwide exceeds 360 million. The most Christians were killed for their faith in Nigeria, with more than five thousand people.