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Pope's Mass: Even Christians forced to leave in an 'elegant' way, are persecuted

During his morning Mass at Santa Marta, the Pope said that there are many Christians who are persecuted on the basis of their faith, more so than in the early days of the Church.
 
POPE FRANCIS
"There are many martyrs today, in the Church, many persecuted Christians. Think of the Middle East where Christians must flee persecution, where Christians are killed. Even those Christians who are forced away in an ‘elegant’ way, with ‘white gloves’: that too is persecution. There are more witnesses, more martyrs in the Church today than there were in the first centuries.”
 
The Pope explained that the martyrs have bore witness of their faith, "until the end.” He added that in order for the Church to grow, Christians must give a "strong and unconditional” witness.
 
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ISIL power threatens Christians in Syria, Iraq

The growing power of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which now controls much of Iraq and Syria, has roused new fears for Christians in the region.

Two Chaldean Catholic nuns were abducted by Islamic militants in Mosul, Iraq, on June 28, along with three children from an orphanage they administered. Church authorities said that they had heard reports that the kidnap victims were in good conditions, but remained “extremely worried” about their situation.

In Aleppo, Syria, ISIL militants crucified nine people in the town square, AsiaNews reports. The victims were political opponents of ISIL, but the method of execution was particularly chilling to Christians.

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Chaldean priest says little hope for Christians in Iraq

El Cajon, Calif., Jun 25, 2014 / 04:42 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- It has been more than four decades since Father Michael Bazzi left his home country of Iraq. But the plight of Christians there at the hands of militant Muslim groups remains at the forefront of his mind.

“Today, there is no future (for Christians),” Fr. Bazzi, pastor of Saint Peter Chaldean Catholic Church in El Cajon, Calif., told CNA on June 18.

“These people, they hang, they behead people who don't believe in their faith,” he lamented. “Our village had 15,000 Catholics when I was there. Would you believe today there are how many: only 150 families.”

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Pope emphasizes: ‘you cannot love God outside of the Church’

Pope Francis continued his series of Wednesday general audiences on the Church and emphasized that belonging to the Church is essential to being a Christian.

“We are Christians because we belong to the Church," Pope Francis said. “It’s like a last name: if the first name is ‘I am a Christian,’ the last name is ‘I belong to the Church.’”

“No one becomes a Christian by himself,” the Pope continued, as he explained that Christians receive their faith in baptism and through catechesis. He asked those assembled in St. Peter’s Square to recall the faces of parents, grandparents, priests, nuns, and others who taught them the sign of the cross, prayers, and the content of the faith. “I always remember the face of the nun who taught me catechism,” he said, as he called the Church “a large family.”

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Egypt: Christian imprisoned for insulting Islam

An Egyptian Christian has been sentenced to six years in prison for a Facebook post that was deemed insulting to Islam.

The June 24 conviction of Kerolos Ghattas, 30, in Luxor took place one day after a Christian journalist was sentenced to six years in prison for his coverage of sectarian violence, according to a report from the Associated Press.

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