THE MAJOR PERSECUTIONS
THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
"The Church of Christ was born
from the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and she continues to grow and
develop in virtue of the heroic love of her most authentic sons and daughters.
'The seed is the blood of Christians' Tertullian, Apologeticus,
50). Like the shedding of Christ's blood, so the martyrs' offering
of their lives becomes in virtue of their union with Christ's sacrifice
a source of life and spiritual fertility for the Church and for the whole
world. The Constitution Lumen Gentium (n. 42) states the reason
very concisely: "By martyrdom a disciple is transformed into an image
of his master, who freely accepted death on behalf of the world's salvation;
he perfects that image even to the shedding of blood. The Church,
therefore, considers martyrdom
as an exceptional gift and as the
highest proof of love."
Pope Paul VI
"The Church of the first millennium
was born of the blood of the martyrs.
At the end of the second
millennium, the church has once again
become a church of martyrs."
Pope John Paul II
This page is created by
Sean Hanlon (Mellon
The aim of this site is to focus on the major persecutions
of the Catholic Church in the twentieth century, a period during which,
according to some, there have been more martyrs than in all the previous
nineteen centuries of the Christian era combined. In fact,
on December 4, 2000, the papal committee which was in charge of the commemoration
of the martyrs of the twentieth century, presented Pope John Paul II with
eight volumes cataloging at least 13,400 martyrs for the century, seventy
percent of whom came from Europe and the nations of the former Soviet Empire.
Perhaps nothing shows the close relationship
of the Catholic Church to developments in contemporary society
as much as the horrible persecutions of the twentieth century. This is
very evident if one reviews the position of the Church at the time of the
Mexican Revolution (second to fourth decades), the Soviet Empire (second
to tenth decades), the Spanish Civil War (fourth decade), the Third Reich
(fourth to fifth decades), and the People's Republic of China (fifth decade
to present). While this site does not exclude other denominations whose
origns are Christian, its main focus will be the Roman Catholic Church.
At the same time, the site acknowledges
that there have been many other martyrs outside of the repressive rule
of the governments mentioned here. They have been evident in
such disparate countries as the Sudan and Vietnam, in addition to a number
of other places around the world, including the slaughter of the Armenians
in the Ottoman Empire. Perhaps in a later stage in the development
of this site, it will be possible to cover even these.
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Copyright 1999-2005 by Vincent
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permission of the author.