On Tuesday, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin paid homage to the scores of men and women who are killed, even today, because of their faith.
These modern-day martyrs are remembered each year in a special suffrage Mass, organized by the San’Egidio Community, in the basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere.
During the Mass, Cardinal Parolin made particular mention of those who have been killed in Nigeria, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Tanzania and the Central African Republic.
Also present were representatives of those who died for the faith from the various Churches and Christian communities.
Citing the Gospel reading of the day, Cardinal Parolin spoke of the union between the witness of Christians, who remain faithful to God despite derision and the threat of death, and Christ, who out of love for the Father, endured the derision of bystanders as he hung on the Cross.
“Today’s prayer keeps their memory alive,” he said, “because their legacy is alive. This legacy flows from lives that were often humble and frail, but that were steeped in love.”
He added: “In various contexts many of our brothers and sisters remain the object of anti-Christian hatred. They are being persecuted not 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 cardinal 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 off, even those who see you as an enemy.”
Citing Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Cardinal Parolin said: “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.” (D.A.S.)[Translations from Vatican Radio]