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Pope Francis prays for persecuted Christians, says St. Stephen counters false image of Christmas

Catholic World News - December 27, 2013

In his Angelus address on the Feast of St. Stephen, Pope Francis said that the recollection of the first martyr “dissolves a false image of Christmas: the fairy-tale, overly sentimental image that does not exist in the Gospel.”

“The liturgy brings us back to the authentic meaning of the Incarnation, connecting Bethlehem to Calvary and reminding us that divine salvation involves the fight against sin; it passes through the narrow gate of the Cross,” he continued.

The Pontiff called for prayer for persecuted Christians, who “unfortunately are more numerous today than in the early days of the Church.”

“This happens especially where religious freedom is still not guaranteed or not fully realized,” and also in countries where religious freedom exists “on paper,” where Christians face “limitations and discrimination.”

“For the Christian, this is not astonishing, because Jesus foretold it as a propitious occasion to render testimony,” he added. “However, in the civil sphere, injustice must be denounced and eliminated.”

“May Mary Queen of Martyrs help us to live Christmas with the ardor of faith and love that shines in St. Stephen and in all the martyrs of the Church.”

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