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Catholic Dictionary




The effort by civil authority to suppress or impede the Church's liberty by physical or psychological means. Since the first days after Pentecost the Church has been persecuted by those who felt threatened by her or who sought to enforce religious conformity or who penalized dissent from the accepted or established norms of belief and behavior. Throughout the Gospels, Christ foretold that his followers would be persecuted, and at the Last Supper he predicted, "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you too" (John 15, 20). This prediction has been verified in every period of the Church's history, including modern times.