After praying the Angelus in Latin, Pope Francis voiced his support for an initiative from the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN): “One million children praying the rosary.”
The worldwide rosary campaign is held annually on Oct. 18, the feast of St. Luke.
More than 100,000 children from 44 countries, including the United States, Spain, Kenya, India, Colombia, and the Philippines, have already registered to take part in the initiative, according to an online map published by ACN.
“I encourage this prayer campaign that has been entrusted to the intercession of Saint Joseph in a particular way this year,” Pope Francis said. “Thanks to all the boys and girls participating in it.”
The pope also drew attention to the beatification of Fr. Juan Elías Medina and 126 fellow martyrs, which took place in Córdoba, Spain on Oct. 16.
Medina and the 126 companions – among them priests, religious, and lay people – were killed in hatred of the faith during the religious persecution of the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939.
Francis prayed that their fidelity would “grant us all, especially persecuted Christians in various parts of the world, the strength to witness to the Gospel courageously.”
Pope Francis also said he is near to the families of the victims of recent violent attacks in Norway, Afghanistan, and England.
One of the victims was Catholic and pro-life British lawmaker Sir David Amess, who died Oct. 15 after suffering multiple stab wounds at a Methodist church in southeast England.
Amess, 69, was a Member of Parliament since 1983 and a member of the Conservative party. He was holding a meeting with his constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church when the attack took place.
A 25-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the killing, and is being held for questioning under the Terrorism Act after early investigations uncovered a potential link to Islamic extremism, the BBC reported Oct. 17.
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“I beg you to please abandon the path of violence that is always a losing cause and is a defeat for everyone. Let us recall that violence begets violence,” Pope Francis said.