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In Sarajevo, Pope Urges Religious to Remember Testimony of Martyrs

Gives off the cuff remarks in reaction to three testimonies of suffering and persecution

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Pope Francis today told religious and priests in Sarajevo to recognize that in their vocation, «in their blood,» is the «blood and vocation» of so many martyrs and religious who have suffered before them.

«Dear sisters and brothers, you must not forget your history, not in order to hold grudges, but in order to create peace,» he told them, in remarks given off-the-cuff.

The Holy Father, on a one-day trip to Sarajevo, told the religious that he would put aside his prepared text to speak from the heart, having been moved by the testimony of two priests and a woman religious.

«The witnesses spoke for themselves,» he said. «This is the memory of your people. A people that has no memory has no future. This is the memory of your fathers and mothers in the Faith. Only three people spoke but behind them are many others who suffered as well.»

«The Apostle Paul tells us not to forget Jesus Christ, the first martyr. These people have followed in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. We need to restore memory in order to make peace,» the Pope said.


Francis dwelt on the word «forgiveness,» challenging the priests and religious to live it in their lives.

«A man and a woman who consecrate their lives to the Lord, but don’t know how to forgive, are worth nothing,» he declared. «Forgiving an enemy who says something bad to you, or a sister who is jealous, isn’t difficult. But forgiving someone who kicks you and hurts you, who threatens your life with a gun, that is hard to forgive. Yet they did this, and they tell us we should do the same.»

Referring to the suffering of the concentration camps, the Pope reflected that 120 days there are counted in minutes.

«How many times the spirit of the world causes us to forget those who have preceded us with their suffering?,» he lamented. «Those days in the concentration camp were counted by the minute because every minute, every hour, was torture: living together, filthy, without food or water, in the heat and the cold, and for so long. And we who complain when our tooth hurts, or because we want a TV in our room, or more creature comforts, or we gossip about the superior because the food isn’t good enough. Don’t forget the testimonies of those who went before. Think how much they suffered.»

«Finally,» the Pope concluded, «I would like to tell you that what we have heard is a story of cruelty. Today, in wars around the world, we see so much cruelty. Be the opposite of cruel: be tender, fraternal, forgiving. And carry the cross of Jesus Christ. That’s what Holy Mother Church wants of you: to be small martyrs, small witnesses of the Cross of Christ. May God bless you and please pray for me.»



On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-address-to-priests-and-religious

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Kathleen Naab

United States

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