There was someone who, in the secular press, had the courage to denounce the disturbing indifference of world institutions and public opinion in the face of all this killing of Christians, recalling what such indifference has sometimes brought about in the past. All of us and all our institutions in the West risk being Pilates who wash our hands.
True martyrs for Christ do not die with clenched fists but with their hands joined in prayer. We have had many recent examples of this. Christ is the one who gave the twenty-one Coptic Christians beheaded in Libya by ISIS this past February 22 the strength to die whispering the name of Jesus.
4. Second Station of the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) at Rome’s Colosseum on Good Friday, April 3, 2015
"Jesus Takes Up His Cross"
You, Jesus, were “numbered with the transgressors”. Among the first generation of Christians, simply because they spoke openly of you, Peter and John, Paul and Silas were cast into prison.This has happened repeatedly throughout history.
In our day too, men and women are imprisoned, condemned and even slaughtered for the simple reason that they are believers or engaged in promoting justice and peace. They are not ashamed of your cross. For us they are wonderful examples to imitate.
Let us pray in the words of a martyr, Shahbaz Bhatti:
On the morning of 2 March 2011, Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Minister for Minorities, was killed by a group of armed men. In his spiritual testament he had written:
I remember a Good Friday when I was only thirteen years old. I heard a sermon on the sacrifice of Jesus for our redemption and for the salvation of the world. And I thought of responding to that love by showing love for our brothers and sisters, placing myself at the service of Christians, especially the poor, the needy and the persecuted who live in this Islamic country.
I want my life, my character and my actions to speak for me, and to say that I am a follower of Jesus Christ. This is so strong a desire in me that I would consider it a privilege if Jesus should wish to accept the sacrifice of my life.
5. Pope Francis — closing remarks at the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) at Rome’s Colosseum on Good Friday, April 3, 2015
“In your innocence, immaculate Lamb, we see our guilt. In your buffeted, spat upon and disfigured face, we see all the brutality of our sins. In the cruelty of your Passion, we see the cruelty of our hearts and actions…. In your body stripped of flesh, ripped open and torn apart, we see the bodies of our brothers abandoned along the roads, disfigured by our negligence and indifference. In your thirst, Lord, we see the thirst of Your merciful Father who wanted to embrace, forgive and save all mankind. In You, divine love, we still see today our brothers and sisters who are persecuted, beheaded and crucified for their faith in You, right before our eyes and often with our complicit silence.”
6. Pope Francis — Message Urbi et Orbi, from the Loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica on Easter Sunday April 5, 2015
We ask Jesus, the Victor over death, to lighten the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted for his name, and of all those who suffer injustice as a result of ongoing conflicts and violence. There are so many of them!
We ask for peace, above all, for beloved Syria and Iraq, that the roar of arms may cease and that peaceful relations may be restored among the various groups which make up those beloved countries. May the international community not stand by before the immense humanitarian tragedy unfolding in these countries and the drama of the numerous refugees.