Pope Francis has made an impassioned plea on screen, calling on people to pray for persecuted Christians.
In the video recording, released today (Tuesday, 5th March) in time for the start of Lent (tomorrow – Ash Wednesday), the Pope begins: “It might be hard for us to believe but there are more martyrs today than in the first centuries.
“They are persecuted because they speak the truth and proclaim Jesus Christ to this society.”
Part of a monthly series called ‘The Pope Video’, the 60-second recording has been produced by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network in association with Vatican Media and Aid to the Church in Need, the Catholic charity which supports persecuted and other suffering Christians.
In the video, the Pope states that, as well as being a problem in countries lacking religious freedom guarantees, persecution occurs in places where such rights are protected “in theory and on paper”.
ACN research shows that Christians suffer the most religious persecution and have experienced genocide in their ancient Middle East homeland and elsewhere, with systematic attempts to eradicate their presence.
According to ACN’s two-yearly reports ‘Religious Freedom in the World’ and ‘Persecuted and Forgotten’ which assesses anti-Christian oppression, Church communities and other minorities are under increasing threat in parts of the Middle East as well as India, Pakistan, China, Iran and Russia.