Pope Francis expressed his concern
for the extremely high rate of Christian persecution in an interview with “La Vanguardia” magazine, calling it “stronger than in the first centuries of the Church.”
“The persecuted Christians are a concern that touches me very deeply as a pastor,” Francis said. "What I would like to be clear on is one thing, I am convinced that the persecution against Christians today is stronger than in the first centuries of the Church. Today there are more Christian martyrs than in that period. And, it's not because of fantasy, it's because of the numbers."
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reports that Christians have been targeted for violence in 151 countries between 2006 and 2012. The Middle East is one region in which Christians become a target for violence, usually in the name of God.
"Violence in the name of God does not correspond with our time. It's something ancient. With historical perspective, one has to say that Christians, at times, have practiced it. When I think of the Thirty Years War, there was violence in the name of God. Today it is unimaginable, right? We arrive, sometimes, by way of religion to very serious, very grave contradictions. Fundamentalism, for example. The three religions, we have our fundamentalist groups, small in relation to all the rest,” Francis said.
Publication date: June 16, 2014