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Pope Francis establishes commission to create catalogue of 21st century Christian martyrs

(File photo) Mass for the canonization of two new saints, October 2022 (Photo: Vatican News)

Pope Francis announced that he has decided to create a working group under the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints to draw up a catalogue of Christians who have died in the last quarter of a century.

In his letter dated July 3, the pontiff said that the group will be called the Commission for the New Martyrs -Witnesses of the Faith.

The pope said the commission, which was created in the context of the upcoming Jubilee Year of 2025, will help the faithful to read the current times in the Paschal light, "drawing from the treasury of such generous faithfulness to Christ the reasons for life and goodness."

Pope Francis echoes his words from his encyclical Lumen Gentium: "As I have said many times, martyrs "are more numerous in our time than in the first centuries": they are bishops, priests, consecrated men and women lay people, and families, who in different countries of the world, with the gift of their lives, have offered the supreme proof of charity."

The pope also said that the decision to create this group was solely dedicated to continuing historical St. John Paul's initiative to ensure that the legacy of the "unknown soldiers of God’s great cause" is not lost.

"On 7 May 2000 they were recalled in an ecumenical celebration, which saw gathered at the Colosseum representatives of Churches and ecclesial communities from all over the world, to evoke, together with the Bishop of Rome, the richness of what I later called ‘ecumenism of the blood,’" recalled Pope Francis. "In the coming Jubilee we will also be united in a similar celebration," he revealed.

Furthermore, Pope Francis said that the group’s research will not only concern martyrs of the Catholic Church but will extend to all Christian denominations.

"The work of the Commission will make it possible to place the martyrs side by side, officially recognized by the Church, the documented testimonies—and there are many—of these brothers and sisters of ours, within a vast panorama in which the single voice of the martyrdom of Christians resounds, stated the Holy Father.

The Commission for the New Martyrs: Witnesses of the Faith will be required to avail themselves of the active contribution of the particular Churches in their structures according to the criteria that they will set. - Luke Godoy


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