Vatican City, Dec 26, 2016 / 10:05 am America/Denver (CNA).
Pope Francis has said the heroic martyrdom of St. Stephen is mirrored in the persecution of modern-day Christians, particularly in the Middle East.
“When we read the history of the early centuries, here in Rome, we read about so much cruelty towards Christians,” the Pope said in a special Angelus address Dec. 26 for the feast of St. Stephen. “I tell you, there is this same cruelty today, and in greater numbers with Christians.”
“Today we want to think about them and to be close to them with our affection, our prayer and our tears.”
The Holy Father praised Catholics in the Middle East who gathered in the debris of a bombed out cathedral to celebrate Christmas Mass.
“[Theirs] is an example of fidelity to the Gospel,” the Pope said of the Middle East Catholics. “Despite the trials and the dangers, they bear witness with courage to their belonging to Christ and they live the Gospel.”