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Protestant missionary John Chau was killed on the Sentinel Islands after attempting to make contact with the indigenous population in 2018. He could become one of those noted as a martyr for the faith.

Catholic Church to honor recent martyrs of all Christian traditions

Protestant martyrs of the faith will now be honored alongside their Catholic counterparts under a new initiative to recognize those from other Christian traditions. Pope Francis has commissioned a new working group in the Vatican’s department of saint-making to identify Christians from all denominations worldwide who have been killed for their faith since 2000.

“In view of the forthcoming Jubilee of 2025, which will see us gathered as ‘Pilgrims of Hope,’ I have established at the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints the ‘Commission of the New Martyrs — Witnesses of the Faith’, to draw up a catalog of all those who have shed their blood to confess Christ and bear witness to his gospel,” Pope Francis said this week.

The Jubilee “is a special year of grace, in which the Catholic Church offers the faithful the possibility of asking for a plenary indulgence, that is, the remission of sins for themselves or for deceased relatives,” according to the website Jubilee 2025. The celebration generally lasts for a year, starting just before Christmas and finishing either 12 days after Christmas or at the completion of the Epiphany the following year.

Pope Francis noted that martyrs today “are more numerous in our time than in the first centuries. They are bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, lay people and families, who in the different countries of the world, with the gift of their lives, have offered the supreme proof of charity.”

Many modern-day martyrs were killed for various reasons, such as trying to worship Jesus in places hostile to Christianity or for helping the poor and others on the margins of society.

“To all of them we owe a great debt, and we cannot forget them,” Pope Francis said. “The work of the commission will make it possible to place side by side with the martyrs, officially recognized by the church, the documented testimonies — and there are many — of these brothers and sisters of ours, within a vast panorama in which the single voice of the martyria of Christians resounds.”

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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