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REUNION OF ALL MARTYRS May 10, 1996

VATICAN (CWN) -- "The martyrs of the Church of the year 2000, for whom Pope John Paul II has appealed, must bring together the martyrs of all the separate Christian denominations, so that they may be united in heaven, where they will join with Christ, for whom they gave their lives." Those were the words of Cardinal Paul Poupard, speaking on behalf of the Pontifical Council for Culture, on the occasion of a trip to France to celebrate the memory of Blessed Pierre-Rene Rogue and 65 other priests of the Vannes diocese who were victims of the French Revolution. Of those 66 martyrs, 23 were guillotined, 23 were assassinated by rivals, and 20 died in exile.

The ceremony in Vannes takes place 62 years after the Pierre-Rene Rogue was beatified, under Pope Pius XI, on May 10, 1934. Cardinal Poupard, delivering a homily today on the theme of Christian martyrdom, explained, "The martyrs of the French Revolution gave their lives, like all martyrs, out of love for Christ, refusing to betray their faith."

"Christians today," the cardinal continued, "in honoring the martyrs of the French Revolution, affirm their own faith in Christ." That faith is still the font of martyrdom, he added. He pointed to the 178 priests who have been killed in Africa during that past 40 years, and the thousands of religious men and women who gave their lives during the religious persecution of the Soviet regime, especially during the Stalinist era.

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