INTERNATIONAL: Pope Francis – religious persecution is ‘insane’

With image of Pope Francis during his March 2021 visit to Iraq (© Aid to the Church in Need)
With image of Pope Francis during his March 2021 visit to Iraq (© Aid to the Church in Need)

Pope Francis has released a video message – supported by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) – in which he describes religious persecution as not only intolerable but crazy.

In this month’s The Pope Video (, a series in which he sets out his prayer intention for each month, the Pontiff hits out at the presence of religious intolerance, especially in civilised societies.

In the video, part-sponsored this month by the Catholic charity for suffering Christians and released yesterday (Tuesday, 4th January 2022), Francis says: “How can we allow that in this society, which is so civilized, there are people who are persecuted simply because they publicly profess their faith?

“Not only is it unacceptable; it’s inhuman, it’s insane.

“Religious freedom is not limited to freedom of worship – that is to say, that people can have a worship service on the day prescribed by their sacred books. Rather, it makes us appreciate others in their differences and recognise them as true brothers and sisters.”

He added: “How is it possible that many religious minorities currently suffer discrimination or persecution?”

ACN’s Religious Freedom in the World Report 2021 found that 5.2 billion people were living in countries where religious freedom violations routinely took place.

These violations were reported in nearly a third of countries around the world (62 out of 196).

Pope Francis said: “As human beings, we have so many things in common that we can live alongside each other, welcoming our differences with the joy of being brothers and sisters.

“And may a small difference, or a substantial difference such as a religious one, not obscure the great unity of being brothers and sisters.

“Let us choose the path of fraternity. Because either we are brothers and sisters, or we all lose.”

Thomas Heine-Geldern, Executive President of ACN, echoed Pope Francis’ comments.

He said: “We firmly believe that the right to be free to practice or not practice any religion is a fundamental human right that is directly related to the dignity of every individual.”

Pope Francis finished by saying: “Let us pray that those who suffer discrimination and suffer religious persecution, may find in the societies in which they live the rights and dignity that comes from being brothers and sisters.”

  • The Pope Video – Francis’ prayer intention for January 2022 dedicated to people persecuted for their faith – can be viewed at