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New video features Pope Francis honouring the bravery of Christian martyrs

by Tola Mbakwe

Pope Francis has publicly paid tribute to the courage of Christian martyrs in a new video focused on Christian persecution.

The video is part of the March edition of 'The Pope Video', an initiative produced in collaboration with the Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

In the video, Pope Francis dedicated this month's prayer focus to persecuted Christians, stating: "The courage of the martyrs, the witness of the martyrs, is a blessing for everyone."

Referencing reports that suggest there are more Christian martyrs today than at the beginning of Christianity, he said: "Let us pray that those who risk their lives for the Gospel in various parts of the world might imbue the Church with courage and missionary drive and be open to the grace of martyrdom."

The video includes touching accounts, such as a Muslim man whose wife was murdered by terrorists after refusing to renounce her Christian faith. Reflecting on this encounter, Pope Francis highlighted the widower's lack of resentment and his focus on his wife's example of love.

"Brothers, sisters, there will always be martyrs among us. This is a sign that we're on the right path," he said.

The video features scenes from Iraq's Nineveh Plains where Christians face genocidal violence from Daesh (ISIS) militants. It also shows a memorial to Akash Bashir, a young Christian guard who gave his life preventing a suicide bomber from entering St John's Church in Yohannabad, Pakistan.

The video's release comes amidst escalating violence against Christians worldwide, including recent attacks in Burkina Faso and Nigeria.

ACN (International) Executive President Regina Lynch commended the pope's video as crucial for encouraging prayer for persecution victims and advocating for those facing faith-based discrimination.

"In addition, we must involve politicians so that they defend the rights of the most vulnerable," she said.

ACN said last year, it received reports in 40 countries of people who were assassinated or detained without charge.

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