Pontiff Sees Martyrs as "Hope for the World"

Says They Show That Love Is Stronger Than Hate

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 25, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI presented contemporary martyrs as hope for the world because they show that the love of Christ is stronger than violence and hate.

The Pope made these comments today before praying the Angelus together with thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square. He recalled that Saturday was the Day of Prayer and Fasting for Missionary Martyrs.

The day commemorates the anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Óscar Romero of San Salvador, which occurred 27 years ago, while he was celebrating the Eucharist.

On this occasion the Church remembers "bishops, priests, religious, and lay people who were cut down as they carried out their mission of evangelization and human betterment" during the past year.

"These missionary martyrs," Benedict XVI said, speaking from the window of his study, "are the hope for the world, because they bear witness that the love of Christ is stronger than violence and hate."

"They did not seek out martyrdom, but they were ready to give their lives to remain faithful to the Gospel. Christian martyrdom is justified only as the supreme act of love for God and our brothers," the Pontiff said.

In 2006, 24 missionaries (17 priests, one male religious, three women religious, three lay people) lost their lives in a violent way.

During his address, Benedict XVI also observed that the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary will be celebrated Monday, since this year March 25 is a Sunday of Lent.

He recalled that when "the Virgin pronounced her 'yes' to the angel's announcement, Jesus was conceived and with him the era of history began which would be ratified at Easter as the 'new and eternal covenant.'"

He affirmed that the annunciation is also "a Christological feast, because it celebrates a central mystery of Christ: his incarnation."