Selfless witness is needed in culture hostile to the Gospel, pope says

By Junno Arocho Esteves

courageous witness of those who have given their life for the Gospel is needed in a world that
is often antagonistic toward its message, Pope Francis said.

“We too are living in a time of martyrdom, and in
the midst of a culture so often hostile to the Gospel. I urge you to have that
same selfless spirit as your predecessors did,” he said April 14 during an
audience with seminarians
from Rome’s Pontifical Scots College.

pope met with the seminarians to mark the 400th
anniversary of when the first seminarians in Rome made an oath to Pope Paul V
to return to Scotland and carry out their priestly ministry.

The pope was greeted
by Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow, who recalled the history of the oath
made in 1616, one year after the martyrdom of St. John Ogilvie, a Scottish Jesuit killed for refusing
to deny his faith during the time of the Reformation in Scotland.

“Those events four
centuries ago, the martyrdom of St. John Ogilvie and the swearing of the
Mission Oath, helped to settle the identity of the Pontifical Scots College as
a seminary,” Archbishop Tartaglia said.

Recalling the oath made by
the seminarians in 1616, Pope Francis said their decision and determination to
return to Scotland and preach the Gospel “was born of a martyr’s blood.”

“The ‘yes’ proclaimed by the 16 men 400 years
ago was eloquent not simply for their good intentions, but rather because they
persevered and prepared themselves in every way, returning to Scotland to face
the hardships that awaited them, even if it meant becoming martyrs
themselves,” the pope said.

Encouraging them to “give yourselves generously to
your priestly formation,” Pope Francis added that in doing so, they
“will honor the history and sacrifices we recall today.”

“You will also
become in this moment a sign to the Scottish people, especially the youth, if
you encounter them in their everyday lives, if you reach out to those who are
furthest from Christ. Show them, each and every one, that God is always with us
and that his mercy endures forever,” he said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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