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The strength of weakness

· Cardinal Parolin celebrates the memory of the new Christian martyrs ·

Nigeria, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Tanzania, the Central African Republic. There is a long list of areas where Christians still today are enduring persecution, discrimination, privation of religious liberty and martyrdom. It was no accident that, during the Holy Mass he celebrated on 6 April at Santa Marta, Pope Francis recalled that “today, in the 21st century, our Church is a Church of martyrs”.

 It is within this context that the Community of Sant’Egidio gathers in prayer each year during Holy Week to remember the new Christian martyrs in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere. On Tuesday, 15 April, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, led the community in prayer remembering these men and women who were ready to offer their lives for the Gospel. Also present at the gathering were representatives from the various Churches and Christian communities that have been marked by the blood of martyrs.

Commenting on the passage from the Gospel of Mark proclaimed in the liturgy of the Word, Cardinal Parolin pointed to the union of the loving witness borne by Christians who do not flee derision and the prospect of death for their fidelity to God, and Christ himself who out of love for the Father endured derision from those who passed beneath the Cross. “Today’s prayer keeps their memory alive, so that their legacy lives on. This legacy flows from lives that were often humble and frail, but that were steeped in love”.

Still today “in various contexts many of our brothers and sisters remain the object of anti-Christian hatred. They are not being persecuted because they are vying for worldly, political, economic or military power, but precisely because they are tenacious witnesses of another vision of life, one of abasement, service, freedom, which is based on faith”.

In their weakness, the Secretary of State said, “they are close to us, they show us that strength comes from God and that it is always possible to go forth and reach out to those who are far away, even those who see you as an enemy”. The Cardinal then emphasized the point by quoting the profound certainty expressed by Pope Francis in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: “The disciple is ready to put his or her whole life on the line, even to accepting martyrdom, in bearing witness to Jesus Christ, yet the goal is not to make enemies but to see God’s word accepted and its capacity for liberation and renewal revealed”.

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