CWN - In a letter to Pope Francis on the occasion of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople reflected on the martyrdom of the apostles and the persecution of Christians today.
“The Church, throughout her history, during different epochs and times, has been persecuted; however, the blood of her martyrs was a source of strength in faith and a witness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said in his June 29 letter. “As the Bride of Christ, the Church, is still called to martyria today, as it faces new forms of persecution and oppression.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch, who holds a primacy of honor in Eastern Orthodoxy, continued:
Over the last few years, we have witnessed with great sorrow the attacks targeting Christians and their places of worship. Our sister Churches stand in solidarity with all persecuted and oppressed Christians of our times, and at this very moment, we call to remembrance those who are in mines, in exile, in harsh labor, and those in every kind of affliction, oppression, necessity, or distress.
The Ecumenical Patriarch also expressed the conviction that “our common witness before the numerous challenges of our contemporary world constitutes a positive testimony for the Church of Christ and for bringing us closer to unity.”