Home   |  About Us   |  Contacts   |  Products    
 News Items
 Top Stories
 News Briefs
 Vatican
 Origins
 Africa
 Headlines
 Also Featuring
 Movie Reviews
 Sunday Scripture
 CNS Blog
 Links to Clients
 Major Events
 2008 papal visit
 World Youth Day
 John Paul II
 For Clients
 Client Login
 CNS Insider
 We're also on ...
 Facebook
 Twitter
 RSS Feeds
 Top Stories
 Vatican
 Movie Reviews
 CNS Blog
.
 For More Info

 If you would like
 more information
 about Catholic
 News Service,
 please contact
 CNS at one of
 the following:
 cns@
 catholicnews.com
 or
 (202) 541-3250

.
 Copyright

 This material
 may not
 be published,
 broadcast,
 rewritten or
 otherwise
 distributed,
 except by
 linking to
 a page on
 this site.

.
 CNS Story:

POPE-AUDIENCE Jan-15-2014 (520 words) With photos. xxxi

Pope: Persecuted Christians must hunker down, hold tight to God, hope


Pope Francis kisses a baby as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Jan. 15. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians facing difficulties and discrimination, especially in the Middle East, can learn a valuable lesson from Japanese Christians who survived by clandestinely baptizing, praying and hiding during 250 years of harsh persecution, Pope Francis said.

"Difficulties and persecution, when they are lived with trust, confidence and hope, purify the faith and strengthen it," he said in his general audience talk in St. Peter's Square Jan. 15.

"Be true witnesses of Christ and his Gospel, authentic children of the church, always ready to give reasons for your hope with love and respect," he told pilgrims from the Middle East.

The pope continued a series of talks on the sacrament of baptism, underlining that it is through baptism that "we become members of the body of Christ and the people of God."

Just as parents pass the gift of life from generation to generation, the gift of grace is passed on with each person's rebirth through baptism, he said.

To underline how important baptism is for the people of God and for keeping the faith alive, Pope Francis pointed to the experience of Christians in Japan in the early 17th century.

Every single priest was expelled from the country, he said, while thousands of Christians there were killed and those who were left went underground, praying and practicing the faith clandestinely.

When missionaries were allowed to return after nearly 250 years, they found thousands of Christians ready to help the church blossom again, said the pope, who as a young Jesuit wanted to serve as a missionary in Japan, but was turned down because of concerns about his health.

Japanese Christians "survived with the grace of baptism," which, because there were no priests, was conferred to every newborn by his baptized mother or father, he said.

"They maintained, even in secrecy, a strong spirit of community because baptism made them become one single body in Christ: they were isolated and hidden, but they were always members of the people of God, of the church," he said. "We can learn a lot from this history."

Later, in a greeting to pilgrims from Jordan and the Holy Land, Pope Francis urged them to learn from the Japanese example how to keep "the flame of faith always lit, transmitting it from one generation to the other."

Every Christian has the duty to transmit the faith, he said in his general audience talk. "Each of us is a link in this chain."

"With this grace, the Christian people journey over time like a river that irrigates the earth and spreads God's blessing across the world."

Christians are disciples "because we receive the faith and missionaries because we transmit the faith," he said. "All of us in the church are disciples forever, for our whole life," even bishops and the pope.

"But I know what some of you will say, 'But father, bishops aren't disciples, bishops know everything, the pope knows everything,'" he said. "Hmm, even bishops and the pope must be disciples because if they aren't disciples, they cannot do good, they cannot be missionaries, they cannot transmit the faith."

- - -

The text of the pope's audience remarks in English is available online at www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/audiences/2014/documents/papa-francesco_20140115_udienza-generale_en.html.

The text of the pope's audience remarks in Spanish is available online at www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/audiences/2014/documents/papa-francesco_20140115_udienza-generale_sp.html.

END


Copyright (c) 2014 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
CNS · 3211 Fourth St NE · Washington DC 20017 · 202.541.3250