- Apr 11, 2021
Every year on major Christian feast days, somewhere in the world, Christians will be killed for no reason other than that they chose to attend religious services.
Chilean Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, Pope Francis’s envoy to the celebration of the centennial of Blessed Oscar Romero’s birth, arrived August 12 in San Salvador to take part in different activities to mark the anniversary.
Rome’s Pontifical Irish College celebrated Holy Trinity Mass in the memory of Father Ragheed Ganni, a former resident. In 2007, the 35-year-old Iraqi priest was shot to death by Islamic militants. Also killed were three subdeacons: Basman Daoud, Ghasan Bidawid and Waheed Isho’a.
“The value of witnessing cuts across generations,” Jesuit Father Tim Ofracio said. He was speaking both about the cause for martyrdom for Jesuit Father Francesco Palliola as well as Father Teresito Soganub and other Catholics kidnapped recently by militants. “These are values that raise the dignity of the human person.” He said there is a demand for a “new kind of martyrdom” today, “like dying to yourself and living for others.”
Many of those killed in attacks targeting Christians were simply going about their daily affairs when the bomb went off, or the mob arrived. Some of them professed their faith, or at least did not deny it, before death, while others died without even knowing what was happening to them. Before the Church proclaims them all martyrs, the Church needs time to permit a fuller picture of the candidate to emerge. Waiving the mandatory five-year waiting period before opening a cause for canonization makes it harder to do that.
“A church without martyrs, dare I say, is a church without Jesus,” Pope Francis said during Mass in the chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae. There are more Christian martyrs today than in the first centuries of the church, but “the mass media doesn’t say so because it isn’t newsworthy,” he added.
Ermont mayor Hugues Portelli called Father Jacques Hamel “an example of dialogue between the religions and communities in his parish on the outskirts of Rouen and he has joined all those innocent victims of fanaticism in our country and the world.”
Pope Francis on Wednesday celebrated a Mass in honor of Father Jacques Hamel, the French priest slain in late July while saying Mass by two men who professed loyalty to the Islamic State, referring to the murdered priest as a “martyr” and insisting that killing in the name of God is “satanic.”