Church Needs Willingness to Accept Martyrdom, Pope Says

New Cardinals Called to Be an Example of Sacrifice

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 25, 2001 ( John Paul II today said the Church needs the example of martyrs in order to be faithful to its mission. And the ones who should be willing to embody this supreme example of love for Christ are the 44 newly created cardinals, he added.

Addressing the 10,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter´s Square before the midday Angelus, John Paul II posed the question: «How can the Church be faithful to her vocation, at a time in which the dominant culture seems not infrequently to go against the demanding logic of the Gospel?»

The Pope answered this question by alluding to the «red color of the cardinals´ habit.»

«[Red] recalls the blood of martyrs, witnesses of Christ to the point of the supreme sacrifice,» the Pope explained. «Cardinals must make visible with their life a love of Christ that does not cease, no matter what the sacrifice. Their example will be an encouragement for all Christians to serve the divine Master generously, regarding themselves as living members of his one mystical Body, which is the Church.»

«The necessary condition for the fulfillment of this commitment is the assiduous contemplation of the face of the Lord,» he continued. «I wrote this in the apostolic letter ´Novo Millennio Ineunte,´ and I have been able to confirm it many times. In fact, if there is less hearing of the word of God, if there is a weakening of prayer and interior contact with the Lord, it is easy to fall into a sterile activism, which constitutes a risk that unfortunately is not rare, especially in our days.»

Yet, John Paul said, «A breath of new hope seems to have invaded Christian people. In the course of the Jubilee and also in these days, the invitation to look to the future has resounded powerfully. The Church looks ahead and wishes to go ´out to sea,´ inspired by the spiritual dynamism awakened within it by the Jubilee experience.»

Earlier in the morning, John Paul II visited one of his parishes as the Bishop of Rome, the Church of the Nativity of Mary, located on the city´s outskirts. This was the 292nd parish the Holy Father has visited during his pontificate.

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