Saturday, December 26, 2009
Benedict XVI highlights the trials and suffering believers endure in many parts of the world. In Asia, Christians suffer persecution or limits to their mission in at least 32 countries (out of 52). Stephen marks the start of the civilisation of love, which forgives persecutors, but does “not surrender to evil.” St Stephen’s commitment to the poor is also a privileged way to bear witness to the Gospel.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Feast of St Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, is celebrated the day after Christmas. “It reminds us . . . that many believers in various parts of the world are suffering because of their faith,” Pope Benedict XVI said during today’s Angelus in St Peter’s Square, all decorated for the Christmas celebrations, with a big crèche and a huge Christmas tree.
The Pope did not mention any country in particular, but yesterday during the Urbi et Orbi blessing he referred to the difficulties Christians face in the Holy Land, Iraq, Sri Lanka, the Korean peninsula, Congo and Latin America.
In Asia, out of 52 countries, at least 32 limit Christians’ mission in some ways. Muslim countries (from the Middle East to Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia) make it hard for people to convert to Christianity; India and Sri Lanka are increasingly pushing for anti-conversion laws; Central Asian nations (except for Kazakhstan) limit religious freedom; the Communist countries (China, Laos Vietnam and North Korea) stifle or even persecute the Church.
As the Pontiff continued his address, he called on every Christian to entrust their persecuted brothers to the protection of St Stephen. “Let us commit ourselves to support them with our prayers and not fail in our Christian vocation, always placing Jesus Christ at the centre of our life, which these days we contemplate in the simplicity and humility of the crèche.”
See also from USA Today, "Pope in good shape two days after Xmas scare."
And from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:
Pope: "The martyrs testify their trust in the love of Christ
December 26, 2009