.- In his opening address for the 93rd Plenary Assembly of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina, conference president Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires said, “The Church was, is and will be persecuted” in “the measure in which she maintains her faithfulness to the Gospel.”
The Cardinal noted that as in the case of St. Stephen the first martyr, the faithfulness of the Church “disturbs and infuriates the world.”
Persecution, he said, is a result of faithfulness, and it is sometimes “frontal and direct.” Other times it is hidden, within the culture of each age, disguised as worldly rationality or “common sense.”
“It takes on many and varied forms but what always provokes persecution is the madness of the Gospel, the scandal of the Cross of Christ, the yeast of the Beatitudes,” he said.
“In the case of Jesus, Stephen and that great ‘cloud of witnesses,’ the methods were and are the same: misinformation, defamation, calumny,” he continued.
During the opening Mass of the assembly, the Cardinal mediated on the martyrdom of St. Stephen and prayed that through his intercession, “we may not be ashamed of the Cross of Christ or yield to the temptation, out of fear, convenience or comfort, to negotiating away the strategy of the Kingdom, which embraces poverty, humiliations and humility.”
By running away from the Cross, Cardinal Bergoglio said, the Church will not bear fruit and will remain sterile. “This is price paid, the people of God pay it, for being ashamed of the Gospel, for yielding to the fear of bearing witness,” he said.