Persecution is widespread and is instigated by the Devil. That was the message Pope Francis delivered in his homily at Mass on June 1, 2018, at Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican.
“Persecution is rather like the ‘air’ that Christians breathe even today,” said the Pope, as reported in Vatican News. “Because even today there are many martyrs, many people who are persecuted for their love of Christ. There are many countries where Christians have no rights. If you wear a cross, you go to jail. And there are people in jail.
“There are people condemned to death today simply because they are Christians. The number of people killed is higher than the number of early martyrs. It’s higher! But this doesn’t make news. Television newscasts and newspapers don’t cover these things. Meanwhile, Christians are being persecuted”.
The Devil is behind every sort of persecution, the Pope explained. This includes cultural colonization, war, hunger, and slavery.
“The Devil is behind every persecution, both of Christians and all human beings,” Francis insisted. “The Devil tries to destroy the presence of Christ in Christians, and the image of God in men and women. He tried doing this from the very beginning, as we read in the Book of Genesis: he tried to destroy that harmony that the Lord created between man and woman, the harmony that comes from being made in the image and likeness of God. And he succeeded.
“He managed to do it by using deception, seduction…the weapons he uses. He always does this. But there is a powerful ruthlessness against men and women today: otherwise how to explain this growing wave of destruction towards men and women, and all that is human”.
The Holy Father pointed out that 70 years after the United Nations adopted its Declaration of Human Rights, violations of human dignity persist. And it is human dignity the Devil wishes to destroy.
“Wars can be considered a kind of instrument to destroy people, made in the image of God,” Francis concluded. “But so are the people who make war, who plan war in order to exercise power over others. There are people who promote the arms industry to destroy humanity, to destroy the image of man and woman, physically morally, and culturally.
“Even if they are not Christians, the Devil persecutes them because they are the image of God. We must not be ingenuous. In the world today, all humans, and not only Christians are being persecuted, because the Father of all persecutions cannot bare that they are the image and likeness of God. So he attacks and destroys that image.”