Francis: “Violence and discrimination against Christians must end”


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ABSTRACTFrancis: “Violence and discrimination against Christians must end” - Vatican Insider LANGUAGE:    Italiano   English      Español www.vaticaninsider.com The Pope’s speeches  :: Thursday 26 December 2013 ::  Home ::  News ::  World News ::  Inquiries and Interviews The Vatican ::  Agenda ::  About us 12/26/2013  Francis: “Violence and discrimination against Christians must end” Tweet Pope Francis during the Angelus The Pope dedicated today's Angelus to the persecuted Christians across the world and to St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr giacomo galeazzi vatican city “In martyrdom, violence is overcome by love. The sugary image many have of Christmas is false.”   After the bloody attack on the Church of the Nativity in Iraq on Christmas Day, Francis dedicated the Angelus on the Feast of St. Stephen to the Church that is suffering persecution and denied religious freedom. But violence against the followers of Jesus has many different sides to it and today the Pope also pointed the finger at those who discriminate against Christians in the West, in an attempt to blot out the public dimension of the faith.    The Pope used strong words in his concerned appeal for Christians, denouncing both the incessant martyrdom being witnessed across the globe and the Christianophobic secularisation that aims to erode religious life and the practice of the Catholic faith by confining worship to the private sphere.   “In the liturgical year, the solemnity of Christmas is spread over eight days: this is a time of joy for all of God’s people,” the Pope said addressing the droves of pilgrims who gathered in St. Peter’s Square despite the rain and cold. On this, the second day of the Octave, we celebrate the Feast of St. Stephen the first Christian martyr, surrounded by the joy of Christmas.” The Book of the Acts of the Apostles presents St. Stephen as “a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit,” chosen along with six other men to serve widows and the poor in the first Christian community in Jerusalem. Today Francis recalled St. Stephen’s martyrdom and how he was dragged outside the city walls and stoned after a controversial speech which unleashed the anger of the members of the Sanhedrin.    “Stephen died as Jesus did, asking his killers for forgiveness,” Francis stressed. He added: “Recalling this martyrdom may seem out of place in the context of the joyous spirit of Christmas. Indeed, Christmas is the celebration of life and instils in us feelings of calm and peace; why upset the magic with memories of such atrocious violence? In actual fact, from a faith perspective, the Feast of St. Stephen is fully in tune with the profound meaning of Christmas. In martyrdom, violence is overcome by love, life defeats death.” The Church “sees in the sacrifice of martyrs their birth in heaven.” Francis therefore urged faithful from all across the world to celebrate Stephen’s “birth” which “is a result of Christ’s birth,” as “Jesus transforms the death of those who love him into the dawn of a new life.”   Francis linked St. Stephen’s martyrdom to Jesus’ death on the Cross: St. Stephen’s death embodies “the same contrast between good and evil, hatred and forgiveness, kindness and violence, which Christ embodied fully with his death on the Cross.” By commemorating this martyr, we c.......