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The television version of Hilary Mantel’s novel Wolf Hall is the latest account to challenge St Thomas More’s reputation as a courageous defender of the rights of conscience. Was he, in truth, a liberal icon, a religious fanatic or something in between?
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The persecution of Christians in contemporary society was the focus of Pope Francis’ homily at his Mass this morning in the Sanctae Marthae residence. He warned that the Cross is always on the road of a Christian, saying there are more Christian martyrs today than during the early days of the Church.
The Pope took as his cue the biblical account of when Peter asked Jesus what the disciples would receive in return for following him. Christ warned that whatever Christians gain will always be accompanied by persecutions, the Pope said. “It’s as if Jesus said, ‘Yes, you have left everything and you will receive here on earth many things: but with persecutions!’ Like a salad, with the oil of persecution: always!”
“This is because the world does not tolerate the divinity of Christ,” Francis explained. “It doesn’t tolerate the announcement of the Gospel. It does not tolerate the Beatitudes … We think of the many Christians, 60 years ago, in the labour camps, in the camps of the Nazis, of the communists: So many! [People say] ‘today these things no longer exist’. Yes they do!”
Pope Francis pointed out that many “are condemned for having a Bible. They can’t wear a crucifix. And this is the road of Jesus. But it is a joyful road because our Lord never tests us beyond what we can bear.”