As mentioned in the past, Pope Francis has spoken eloquently against the devaluing of the dignity of human life. As we know, violence is rampant especially in parts of the Middle East and Africa. One only has to watch the nightly news to see that there appears to be a callous disregard for the dignity of human life. Many people, especially Christians, have been victims of planned acts of senseless violence. They have been victims of planned acts of terror. Due to these actions, many people have been killed, and many more have been wounded. There also appears to be a perversion of religion since many of these acts of violence are carried out in the name of religion.
Pope Francis has strongly condemned this violence. He said, “May no one use religion as a pretext for actions against human dignity and against the fundamental rights of every man and woman.” He also stated, “No one must use the name of God to commit violence. To kill in the name of God is a great sacrilege.” He called upon Christians to give witness to Christ in the world. He stated, “A church or a Christian who does not give witness is sterile.” He also made it clear that prayer is the church’s strongest source of strength. He asked Christians to pray for peace and to speak out on behalf of the fundamental dignity of the human person. We cannot afford to become insensitive or indifferent to the plight of persecuted Christians throughout the world.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also challenged us to avoid complacency and called upon people of all faiths “…to pray for victims of religious persecution and violence and work to protect the marginalized and persecuted around the world.”
This plea for prayer is reflected in the following:
Almighty, everlasting God, look with compassion on all those who suffer persecution for justice’s sake.
Grant them grace to carry their cross with patience in the name of Thy beloved Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Let the chalice pass from them if such be Thy holy Will: yet, in all things, may Thy Will be done.
Grant to those who persecute, light to see the truth, and the grace of mercy and forgiveness,
for they know not what they do.
Mary, Mother of Jesus, Comfort of the Afflicted, help thy children in their time of bitter trial.
O Lord our God, by the sign of Thy holy cross deliver us from our enemies.