Pope Francis prayed publicly for the Christians massacred recently in Nigeria and Mali as the Vatican celebrated a day of remembrance for martyred missionaries Sunday.
After his weekly Angelus prayer in Saint Peter’s Square, the Pope told the thousands of pilgrims that “remembering the modern-day Calvary of our brothers and sisters persecuted or killed for their faith in Jesus is a duty of gratitude for the whole Church.”
“Let us for the many victims of the latest inhuman attacks in Nigeria and Mali,” Francis said. “May the Lord receive these victims, heal the wounded, console their families, and convert cruel hearts.”
As Breitbart News reported, Muslim militants slaughtered over 120 Christians in just three weeks in central Nigeria, looting and burning dozens of homes and churches. The Barnabas Fund, a Christian watchdog group, later corrected the number, noting that more than 300 Christians had in fact been slain in the Islamists’ “killing spree.”
In Mali, jihadists of Nusrat al-Islam, a militant organization formed by a merger of Islamists including the Saharan branch of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, AQIM, stormed an army base last Sunday, killing 16 Malian soldiers and burning the base.
“Today we celebrate a day in memory of the missionary martyrs,” the pope said Sunday. “During 2018, throughout the world, numerous bishops, priests, nuns, and lay faithful suffered violence and forty missionaries were killed, almost twice as many as the previous year.”
“Remembering this modern-day Calvary of our brothers and sisters persecuted or killed because of their faith in Jesus is a duty of gratitude for the whole Church,” Francis added, “but also an incentive to courageously bear witness to our faith and our hope in Him who on the Cross has forever conquered hatred and violence with his love.”
Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, a fact routinely ignored or under-covered by the mainstream media. Most people do not realize how widespread the persecution is or that 75 percent of the victims of religious persecution around the world are Christians.
Nearly 300 million Christians around the world face severe persecution, which takes the form of executions, rapes, and other forms of violence, as well as harassment, threats to employment and personal livelihood, and social ostracization. This shows no signs of abating but, on the contrary, is increasing in many parts of the world.
Christian persecution in India, for example, was up by 57 percent in the first two months of 2019 as compared with the same period in 2018, while twelve Christian churches were desecrated in France in the course of one week.
This media bias against Christian persecution was poignantly illustrated earlier this month when media gave around-the-clock coverage to the New Zealand mosque shootings while completely passing over the slaughter of Christians in Africa, which claimed six times as many victims.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome