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Vatican Establishes Commission to Preserve Testimonies of Christian Martyrs in the Modern Era

The Vatican made an announcement on Wednesday, revealing the creation of a commission dedicated to researching and documenting the stories of Christian martyrs from the third millennium. In a letter published on July 5, Pope Francis declared the establishment of the "Commission of New Martyrs - Witnesses of the Faith" within the Dicastery for the Causes of the Saints.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/5/2023 (11 months ago)

Published in Christian Saints & Heroes

Keywords: Vatican, Pope Francis, Martyrs, modern, third millennium

The primary task of this commission is to compile an archive that details the lives of Christian martyrs, both Catholic and non-Catholic, who were killed in the past 25 years. Pope Francis clarified that this initiative does not involve any modifications to canon law regarding the formal recognition of martyrdom in the Catholic Church. Instead, he expressed his desire to have the testimonies of those who lost their lives for being Christian stand alongside the officially recognized martyrs of the Church.

The Pope emphasized that in modern times, there are more martyrs than in the early centuries, including bishops, priests, consecrated individuals, laypeople, and families who have demonstrated the highest form of charity by offering their lives for their faith. The establishment of this commission aligns with the Church's upcoming 2025 Jubilee Year, which will focus on the theme of hope.

Pope Francis recalled that a similar commission on new martyrs was formed by St. Pope John Paul II for the Great Jubilee in 2000. During that time, the commission received 13,000 testimonies from men and women who sacrificed their lives for Christ in the 20th century. Some of these stories were shared during an ecumenical prayer service held at the Colosseum on May 7, 2000.

The Pope highlighted that the 2025 Jubilee Year will include a similar event to commemorate what he refers to as the "ecumenism of blood." He acknowledged that even in a changing world, Christians continue to demonstrate the vitality of their baptism, often at great risk. Some have publicly lived their faith and participated in Sunday liturgies, while others have been killed while carrying out acts of charity for the poor. Additionally, there are "silent victims" who have lost their lives in violent upheavals.

Pope Francis stressed the importance of recognizing and remembering these individuals, citing St. John Paul II's 1994 apostolic letter, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, which emphasized the need to preserve the legacy of these "unknown soldiers of the great cause of God." The Pope expressed his confidence that the compilation of this catalog, particularly within the context of the upcoming Jubilee, will enable believers to interpret the present time through the lens of Easter, drawing inspiration from the abundant examples of unwavering faithfulness to Christ.

Heading the commission are Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, and Archbishop Fabio Fabene, secretary of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints. The vice president of the commission is Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Catholic Community of Sant'Egidio, and the secretary is Father Marco Gnavi, pastor of the Basilica of St. Mary in Trastevere and former secretary of the 2000 commission.The primary task of this commission is to compile an archive that details the lives of Christian martyrs, both Catholic and non-Catholic, who were killed in the past 25 years. Pope Francis clarified that this initiative does not involve any modifications to canon law regarding the formal recognition of martyrdom in the Catholic Church. Instead, he expressed his desire to have the testimonies of those who lost their lives for being Christian stand alongside the officially recognized martyrs of the Church.

The Pope emphasized that in modern times, there are more martyrs than in the early centuries, including bishops, priests, consecrated individuals, laypeople, and families who have demonstrated the highest form of charity by offering their lives for their faith. The establishment of this commission aligns with the Church's upcoming 2025 Jubilee Year, which will focus on the theme of hope.

Pope Francis recalled that a similar commission on new martyrs was formed by St. Pope John Paul II for the Great Jubilee in 2000. During that time, the commission received 13,000 testimonies from men and women who sacrificed their lives for Christ in the 20th century. Some of these stories were shared during an ecumenical prayer service held at the Colosseum on May 7, 2000.

The Pope highlighted that the 2025 Jubilee Year will include a similar event to commemorate what he refers to as the "ecumenism of blood." He acknowledged that even in a changing world, Christians continue to demonstrate the vitality of their baptism, often at great risk. Some have publicly lived their faith and participated in Sunday liturgies, while others have been killed while carrying out acts of charity for the poor. Additionally, there are "silent victims" who have lost their lives in violent upheavals.

Pope Francis stressed the importance of recognizing and remembering these individuals, citing St. John Paul II's 1994 apostolic letter, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, which emphasized the need to preserve the legacy of these "unknown soldiers of the great cause of God." The Pope expressed his confidence that the compilation of this catalog, particularly within the context of the upcoming Jubilee, will enable believers to interpret the present time through the lens of Easter, drawing inspiration from the abundant examples of unwavering faithfulness to Christ.

Heading the commission are Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, and Archbishop Fabio Fabene, secretary of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints. The vice president of the commission is Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Catholic Community of Sant'Egidio, and the secretary is Father Marco Gnavi, pastor of the Basilica of St. Mary in Trastevere and former secretary of the 2000 commission.

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