VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians must beware of a “polite” persecution that is cloaked in a disguise of “culture, modernity and progress,” Pope Francis said.
Those who suffer this kind of persecution are not persecuted “for confessing Christ’s name, but for wanting to have and manifesting the values of the son of God,” he said April 12 during the Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
“We see every day that the powerful make laws that force them to go on this path, and a nation that does not follow these modern, cultured laws, or at least does not have them in their legislation, are accused (and) are politely persecuted,” he said.
The day’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles (7:51-8:1) recalled the martyrdom of St. Stephen, who was stoned to death after firmly rebuking the scribes and elders who “always oppose the Holy Spirit.”
The pope said that persecution is “the church’s daily bread” and that today, there are “everyday men and women” who are martyred for the faith.
“Only three weeks ago, those Christians celebrating Easter in Pakistan were martyred precisely because they were celebrating the risen Christ. And like so, the history of the church goes forward with its martyrs,” the pope said.
However, he added, there is also a “polite” persecution that “takes away from man and woman their freedom, as well as their right to conscientious objection.”
“Jesus has named the head of this ‘polite’ persecution: the prince of this world. And when the powerful want to impose behaviors, laws against the dignity of the son of God, they persecute them and go against God the Creator. It is the great apostasy,” the pope said.
Pope Francis said that although Christians are besieged by persecution, Jesus will always remain close.
“The Lord has promised that he will not be far from us: ‘Beware, beware! Do not fall for the spirit of the world. Beware! But go forward, I will be with you,'” he said.