In the course of a morning homily discussing the martyrdom of St. Stephen in Jerusalem,1 Pope Francis linked the “cruel persecutions” of early Christians with the Easter Sunday mass murder of Pakistani Christians three weeks ago by Taliban killers.
However, the Pope also identified “another kind of persecution that is not often spoken about.” In addition to the “clear, explicit type of persecution” like the slaughter of Christians who profess their belief in Jesus Christ, there is a second kind, he said, one ““disguised as culture, disguised as modernity, disguised as progress.”
“It is a kind of — I would say somewhat ironically — polite persecution.”
This “polite persecution” is not against those who merely profess Christian beliefs, he explained, but against those who want “to demonstrate the values of the Son of God.” This “polite persecution” does not use bombs or guns, but the force of law.
“We see every day,” said the Pope, “that the powerful make laws that force people to take this path, and a nation that does not follow this modern collection of laws, or at least that does not want to have them in its legislation, is accused, is politely persecuted.”
This denial of freedom includes the legal suppression of conscientious objection, now notably advocated by powerful interests and some politicians in Canada who want to force participation of even objecting health care workers and institutions in euthanasia and assisted suicide.
“God made us free, but this kind of persecution takes away freedom!”
Canadian health care workers who refuse to provide or facilitate homicide or suicide now face the kind of threats described by Pope Francis,2 who explained how “polite persecution” works.
“[I]f you don’t do this, you will be punished: you’ll lose your job and many things or you’ll be set aside.”
Calling this “the persecution of the world,” the Pope warned that its leader is the one identified by Jesus Christ as “the prince of this world” (i.e., Satan).
“The prince of this world” can be recognized, warned Pope Francis, “when the powerful want to impose attitudes, laws against the dignity of the children of God, persecute them and oppose God the Creator: it is the great apostasy.”
The Christian’s path, he concluded, is always beset by these two kinds of persecution that bring “much suffering,” so Christians must be confident in the presence of Jesus “with the consolation of the Holy Spirit.”
2. See, for example, Attaran A. “Doctors can’t refuse to help a patient die – no matter what they say.” iPolitics, 13 November, 2015 (Accessed 2015-11-24). In response, see Murphy S., “Amir Attaran and the Elves.” Protection of Conscience Project, 15 November, 2015;