Fr. Stephan Horn, coordinator of the Ratzinger Schuelerkreis and formerly assistant professor to Joseph Ratzinger in Regensburg, told CNA that the topic "met the consensus of the majority of the Schuelerkreis members, and Benedict XVI accepted it and immediately suggested the presenters for the symposium."
The two presenters are Msgr. Helmut Moll and Bishop Manfred Scheuer of the Austrian diocese of Linz. Both have studied the martyrdom of Christians, with a particular focus on martyrs of the 20th century.
Msgr. Moll was already a member of the Ratzinger Schuelerkreis, but he is also the curator of the "German Martyrologium," a book published by the German bishops' conference dedicated to the martyrs of the 20th century.
Bishop Scheuer is the postulator of the cause for the beatification of Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian Catholic who refused to collaborate with Nazis, and was sentenced to death and beheaded Aug. 9, 1943.
The discussion will likely focus on the meaning of martyrdom in 20th century. This theme is especially important to Pope Francis, who has stressed throughout his pontificate that "there are more martyrs now than in the Christianity's early ages."
Fr. Horn noted that one of the reasons for the martyrdom of Christians is increased secularization, which Pope Benedict XVI noted in the years following the Second Vatican Council.