On June 29 we venerate the memory of St Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and St Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, both martyrs whose blood nourished the roots of the Church of Rome. The spilled blood of martyrs witnesses ultimately to the Lord’s triumph, wherein the horror of suffering and persecution can be viewed anew joyfully through the lenses of faith, hope and charity.

Speaking of persecution, today we see in some places the great suffering of Christians, hounded and tormented in inhuman ways. But there are other kinds of persecution.

We must always be on guard against the dictatorship of relativism and the three perennial foes: the world, the flesh and the Devil.

In 2010, Benedict XVI touched this theme in his sermon for the feast of Peter and Paul:

If we think of the two millennia of Church history, we can see that – as the Lord Jesus had announced (cf Mt 10:16-33) – Christians have never been lacking in trials, which in some periods and places have assumed the character of real persecution. These, however, despite the suffering they cause, are not the greatest danger for the Church.

In fact it suffers greatest damage from what pollutes the Christian faith and life of its members and its communities, eroding the integrity of the Mystical Body, weakening its ability to prophesy and witness, tarnishing the beauty of its face. This reality is already attested in the Pauline Epistle …

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