Catholic World News

Pope warns against ‘rigidity,’ says 'genocide' is inappropriate description of Christian suffering

June 20, 2016

On June 18, Pope Francis visited Villa Nazareth, an apostolate that offers educational opportunities for young persons in need, and reflected on the witness that the Good Samaritan offered to the innkeeper.

The Samaritan, said the Pope, was “a sinner, a foreigner who was not a member of the people of God.”

When the innkeeper, the Pope continued, saw the Samaritan bring the injured man to his inn, he thought:

But this is crazy! A Samaritan who helps a Jew? It’s crazy! And then, with his own hands he tends wounds and brings him to the hotel and tells me, ‘But you, take care of him, I will pay you if it's something more.’ But I have never seen this! This is crazy! And that man has received the Word of God in the testimony.

Before addressing questions from some of the young people, Pope Francis asked that the Lord “free us from priests of hurry, or who go in a hurry, always, who do not have time to listen, to see, who must do their own thing; free us from the doctors who want to present the faith of Jesus Christ with a mathematical rigidity; and teach us to stop ourselves and teach us that wisdom of the Gospel: ‘to get one’s hands dirty.’”

In remarks about Christians who suffer for the faith, the Pope said: "I don't like it when some speak of a Christian genocide in the Middle East." That description, he said, is a form of "reductionism." The proper term, the Pope insisted, is "a mystery of the faith: martyrdom."

That statement contrasted with a statement that Pope Francis made in Bolivia last year. Speaking of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, he said that "in this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end."


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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Jun. 20, 2016 9:04 PM ET USA

    I wish I could ask the Holy Father: why can't both terms be applied equally? When a Christian is killed because of his Faith, that's martyrdom. When an entire country's or region's Christians are killed en masse, that's genocide.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Jun. 20, 2016 7:45 PM ET USA

    There is a saying in the Bible, "Wisdom sings her own praises...!" That means a "wise act" amplifies itself, even among unbelievers... Any man woman or child who dies a heroic death, even a heroic Christian death is known by the fruits of such a death, and our Church often picks up on such a death... but to make it seem as if the possibility of such deaths justifies the wholesale slaughter of entire groups of people, even Christians...? As if it isn't "genocide" in all its horror?

  • Posted by: jacquebquique5708 - Jun. 20, 2016 6:18 PM ET USA

    Pope Francis continues to cause confusion by changing his view from one statement to another. It is either genocide or it is not. If you target a group of people just because of their religious beliefs, then it is indeed genocide. Islam as an entity would like to drive Christianity out of the Middle East. I would consider that to be genocide and very similar to what the Ottomans did in Armenia and definitely what Joe Stalin did in Russia. It is very obvious why Pope Francis is against rigidity.