The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, focussed his homily at the International Mass at Lourdes on Tuesday on the “widespread, far-reaching” persecution of Christians.
“At this Mass today we pray for the Church throughout the world. Today I invite you to pray especially for Christians who are persecuted for their faith, in so many parts of the world. The persecution of Christians is more widespread, more far-reaching than ever before,” the Cardinal said.
“So today we remember all those who have died for their faith, whether young or old, in Africa, in Asia, in India, in Europe, or in America. We pray for those who are marginalised in their society, deprived of liberty, of health, of opportunity because of their faith.”
The Mass, held in the Basilica of St Pius X in Lourdes, came during the Westminster diocese's annual pilgrimage to Lourdes.
The theme of this year’s pilgrimage has been “Blessed are the poor for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”, the Cardinal added.
“Today we think of those who are poor through persecution. We reaffirm our faith that true riches do not lie in this world and all its benefits, but in our heavenly Kingdom. And the gateway into that Kingdom is narrow. Its door is faithfulness: our faithfulness to Jesus and his unfailing faithfulness to each one of us.”
He pointed out that the “high road to heaven” is through martyrdom.
“We thank God that even today we are enriched by the deaths of so many martyrs, people who have faced and accepted death rather than embrace unfaithfulness to the Lord. They are the riches of the Church and the seed of our future. We thank them and we praise the Lord for His work in their living and dying,” he continued.
He concluded calling his “brothers and sisters” to unite in prayer “and "truly be witnesses to the love, forgiveness and faithfulness of the Lord in our world today. For then the Kingdom of Heaven will be given to us, too."