Frances D’Emilio of AP News writes that Pope Francis has set up a special, ten-member commission to uncover what he calls the “new martyrs” of the twenty-first century, those killed for attending Mass or running Christian-affiliated charities. The martyr commission is part of the upcoming 2025 Jubilee Year of Hope.
The commission will be a part of the Vatican’s saint-making office and will look into cases involving martyrs from non-Catholic, Christian denominations.
The Vatican on Wednesday released a copy of a letter in which the pope announced the commission will be part of the Holy See’s saint-making office.
“As I have said so many times, martyrs ‘are more numerous in our time than in the first centuries,’” of the Church, Francis wrote in the letter dated Monday. He was referring to the early years of Christianity, when many were slain for refusing to renounce their faith, seen as a threat to Roman imperial rule.
The commission is tasked with “working up a catalogue of all those who have shed their blood to acknowledge Christ and to give witness to His Gospel,’’ Francis wrote in his letter. ”The martyrs of the Church are witnesses to the hope that derives from faith in Christ and inspires true charity,’’ he said.
Just two months ago, the Vatican formally recognized 21 Coptic Orthodox workers who were beheaded by Islamic militants in Libya as martyrs with their own feast day.
Francis announced the inscription of the 21, most of them Egyptians, in the roll call of saints celebrated liturgically in the Catholic Church. He made the announcement during an audience with the Coptic Orthodox pope, a significant gesture aimed a forging unity between Catholic and Orthodox churches.
“In a world in which it sometimes seems that evil prevails, I am certain that the working up of this catalogue,” the pope wrote in the letter, “will help believers” to see “the reasons of life and of good” by drawing inspiration from the new martyrs.