Monday, December 26, 2011
VATICAN : POPE : CALLS FOR PEACE - PRAYS FOR NIGERIAN VICTIMS
RADIO VATICAN REPORT: Pope Benedict made a heart felt appeal this St Stephen’s Day for the people whose lands as he put it “are drenched with innocent blood. He spoke in particular about the violence that was wreaked on Christmas Day in Nigeria.
A blast outside a St Theresa’s Church near the capital Abuja killed at least 35 people, and in the city of Jos another bomb went off near the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church.
The Pope expressed his closeness to the Christian community in the country and all those who have been affected by what he called “this senseless act”.
He also reinforced his call for peace, respect, reconciliation and love adding that violence is a path that only leads to pain, destruction and death.
The Holy Father made the appeal at the Angelus this 26th of December in St Peter’s Square. He also recalled St Stephen who was the first Christian martyr.
“Today we celebrate Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr. May his example inspire us to be courageous in living our faith in Christ our Saviour and ready to forgive those who harm us”.
Speaking in Italian the Pope described how St Stephen gave his life for God adding that even as he was being stoned to death he said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" and begged forgiveness for his accusers.
Pope Benedict went on to explain that after the generation of the Apostles, the martyrs gained a prominent place in the consideration of the Christian community.
In times of increased persecution, he continued, their praise revives the arduous journey of the faithful and encourages those in search of the truth to be converted to the Lord.
The Holy Father also underlined the importance of the martyrs as figures in the Church saying, that they are venerated and honoured as "teachers of virtue," "living witnesses", and "silent messengers" .
On this feast of St Stephen Pope Benedict greeted the faithful in St Peter’s Square in a number of languages including English and pray that Our Lady Queen of Martyrs would protect the faithful in times of adversity