Pope Benedict XVI waves during his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 9. CNS photo/Alessia Giuliani, Reuters

Messengers of hope, peace still face persecution, Pope says

By  Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
  • May 11, 2012

VATICAN CITY - People spreading the Gospel are still subject to persecution even though they are bringing a message of peace and hope to a world marked by crises, anxiety and desperation, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"However, despite the problems and tragic reality of persecution, the church does not get discouraged, it remains faithful to the Lord's mandate," knowing that witnesses and martyrs always have been numerous and indispensible for evangelization, he said.

The Pope spoke May 11 to officials of Pontifical Mission Societies meeting in Rome.

"Dear friends, you know well that proclaiming the Gospel often brings difficulty and suffering," he told his audience.

Currently, much of the world is facing economic, cultural and political change and "often people feel alone, fallen prey to anguish and desperation," he said.

In that context, those who proclaim the Gospel, "even if they are messengers of hope and peace, continue to be persecuted like their master and Lord" Jesus Christ, he said.

Despite the challenges and threat of persecution, Christ's message "can never give in to the logic of this world, because it is prophecy and liberation; it is the seed of a new humanity that grows, and only at the end of times will it come to full fruition," the Pope said.

He said the task of evangelization always has been urgent, however, the current era impels the church to go forth "at an even quicker pace" so that people may know the truth in Christ, find salvation and grow in justice and peace.

Christians, too, need to listen to God's word and be invited again to conversion, he added.

The Pope praised and encouraged a new initiative by the Pontifical Mission Societies and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples meant to support the upcoming Year of Faith: the World Mission Rosary, first created by Archbishop Fulton Sheen in 1951, and re-launched by the mission societies. The rosary -- made up of yellow, red, white, blue and green beads -- helps people pray for the different mission regions of the world and five areas of evangelization: interreligious dialogue, liturgy, solidarity, witness and proclamation.

The Pope said he hoped the project would accompany evangelizing efforts around the world and help Christians rediscover and deepen their faith.

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