Christian persecution is caused by the devil, says Pope Francis

The persecution of Christians all over the world is caused by the devil who stirs people against the Christian faith, Pope Francis said during a prayer service in Rome over the weekend.

(REUTERS / Maurizio Brambatti / Pool)Pope Francis leads a mass at the Basilica of Saint Bartholomew on Tiber island in Rome, April 22, 2017.

On Saturday, Pope Francis voiced out his reflection on a Bible passage read during a service dedicated to Christian martyrs at the St. Bartholomew Basilica in Rome. The pontiff spoke about hatred which comes from the devil and love which stems from Jesus Christ, Crux relays.

"With his death and resurrection, [Jesus] rescued us from the power of this world, the power of the devil, and the prince of the world doesn't want this," said Pope Francis. "Because we were saved by Jesus, and the prince of the world doesn't want this, he hates us and provokes the persecution."

In addition, Pope Francis described martyrdom as a "grace from God, not courage." Just as it has been said that the country needs heroes, the Church also needs martyrs and other people who are committed to become witnesses for Christ even up to the point of death.

"What does the Church need today?" Pope Francis asked. "Martyrs, witnesses, this means, every-day-saints, those who lead ordinary lives, carried forward with consistency; but also those who have the courage to accept the grace of being witnesses to the end, to their death."

Moreover, the pope said the martyrs' heritage grants today's generation with the gifts of peace and unity. These Christian heroes also teach people that love can conquer violence, war, and bullying and eventually give birth to peace.

On Easter Monday, the pontiff appeared before the faithful gathered at St. Peter's Square and said a prayer for persecuted Christians all over the world. He also said believers are called to proclaim the Gospel, just as the women at the tomb were told by the angel to tell the disciples that Christ is risen, the Vatican Radio reports.

Amidst all the suffering in the world, Pope Francis said Christians are called to affirm the value of life. At the end of his address, he said the persecuted believers are called to become courageous witnesses to the message of Easter.