Pope Francis dedicates his first prayer message of 2022 to combatting religious discrimination and persecution, reminding us that religious freedom is not limited to freedom of worship, but is tied to fraternity.
“How can we allow that in this society, which is so civilized, there are people who are persecuted simply because they publicly profess their faith?” asks Pope Francis in the video for his monthly prayer intention for January 2022.
The January prayer intention marks the beginning of the seventh year of the Pope Video, a ministry of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network.
In his message released on Tuesday, the Holy Father says that persecuting people simply because they publicly profess their faith is “inhuman” and “insane.”
A worldwide phenomenon
Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, which is supporting this month’s message, notes in its annual “Religious Freedom in the World” report that worldwide, religious freedom is violated in one out of every three countries, comprising around two-thirds of the total world population.
More than 646 million Christians, ACN reports, live in countries that do not respect religious freedom.
Recognising others as brothers and sisters
Pope Francis emphasizes that “religious freedom is not limited to freedom of worship,” but “makes us appreciate others in their differences and recognise them as true brothers and sisters.”
Even substantial differences, such as religious differences, should “not obscure the great unity of being brothers and sisters.”
During this first month of 2022, Pope Francis invites us to pray “that those who suffer discrimination and suffer religious persecution, may find in the societies in which they live the rights and dignity that comes from being brothers and sisters.”