Pope Francis in the basilica St. Bartholomew prays with the Community of Sant'Egidio in memory of the New Martyrs
April 22 2017 - ROME, ITALYMartyrsPope FrancisRefugees
Pope Francis visited the Basilica of St. Bartholomew in Rome, where he prayed with the Community of Sant'Egidio in memory of the New Martyrs. A crowd of children and elderly people, sick people, disabled people and refugees gave a warm welcome to the Pope at the entrance of the basilica.
"Martyrs teach us to win with love and not with power," said Andrea Riccardi, greeting the Pope at the beginning of the prayer. Along with him there were relatives and friends of those who gave life for the Gospel, such as Karl Schneider, son of Paul Schneider, a pastor killed in Buchenwald camp in 1939, Roselyne Hamel, sister of the French priest Fr. Jacques Hamel, assassinated in Rouen on 26th July 2016.
"What does the Church need today?" Pope Francis asked in his homily - "Martyrs, witnesses, that is, the saints of every day". After paying homage to the relics of the martyrs, the Pope met with a group of immigrants and refugees arrived in Italy through the humanitarian corridors.
Thanks for coming as a pilgrim in the sanctuary of the new martyrs.
The meeting with you brings us back to the Gospel and the poor.
I remember that, in Santa Maria in Trastevere, your Holiness spoke about three "P": prayer, poor and peace.
However today is a different day, intense, for a significant coincidence: today is the anniversary of the kidnapping of the bishops of Aleppo, Boulos Yazigi and Gregorios Ibrahim who prayed in this church. For them we always request their freedom, along with Paolo Dall'Oglio. Today, your Holiness helps us to sync with the message of this place. This is a holy location, because it holds the memories of Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Evangelic martyrs, together in the blood poured out for Jesus. Saint John Paul II, in 2000, wanted this sanctuary to not forget. And it has become a place of memory and pilgrimage for many of many churches.
I have to say frankly that, in front of the new martyrs, we are ashamed: because they are our contemporary to us.
Sometimes they have been friends, even commensals. Such as Christian de Chergé, killed in 1996 when, with his brothers, remained in Algeria to live with Muslims. Such as Shahbaz Bhatti. We have been their friends, but we have not freed ourselves from the determined will of saving ourselves. We cannot remain centred in the love for our life, in a world where war is mother of pains and of poverty, in a worls where Christians are killed. We need to learn their own language, the language of them, the ones who did not save themselves.
A Jewish writer said: "Who talks the language of martyrs builds up a wall against evil".
The martyrs remind us that as Christians we are not winners due to power, weapons, money or consensus. They are not winnder, but people where only one strength dwells: the one of humble faith and of love. They don't steal life, but they give it, as Jesus did. Jesus who did not save himself and did not escape from Jerusalem. In this way, the martyrs reference a Church poor, humble and human. John Chrysostom wrote: "Christians get to victory by accepting being killed".
There needs to be, in this time, a victory: but not a victory from one side or the other. Rather, a victory of peace and humanity. Too many people takes life away through terrorism, exploitation, neglecy. There are too many exodous of pain such as the refugees and the migrants. However, we are not condemned to be scared spectators. The poor and the martyrs help us to hope. They show us that, with the help of God, the Word, love, the encounter, we can change the world.
Thank you, Holy Father, for being here with us in a day full of meaning and marked by a sense of pain. Thank you fro being in front of this big fresco of the Beatitudes that are the martyrs. We ask them to intercede for Your Holiness. We feel that, in a way, our prayer today will accompany and prepare Your Holiness to the coming journey in Egypt, land of martyrs and dialogue.