Christians divided by beliefs but united in witness of martyrdom, says Pope Francis

Pope Francis says the valiant acts of modern martyrs will help Christians 'understand that all the baptised are members of the same Body of Christ, his Church.'Reuters

Christian churches may still be divided by their beliefs, but Pope Francis believes there is still something that unifies all Christians worldwide—their witness of martyrdom.

Speaking at the Global Christian Forum on Wednesday, Pope Francis pointed out that the shedding of blood "is deeper and stronger than the differences which still separate our churches and ecclesial communities," the Catholic News Agency reported.

"In various parts of the world the witness to Christ, even to the shedding of blood, has become a shared experience of Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, Protestants, Evangelicals and Pentecostals," he said.

The forum held in Tirana, Albania discussed the topic, "Discrimination, Persecution, Martyrdom: Following Christ Together." It also included the Catholic Church's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Pentecostal World Fellowship, the World Council of Churches, and the World Evangelical Alliance.

The pope added that the communion of martyrs is "the greatest sign of our journeying together" despite Christians having differences in beliefs.

Pope Francis extended his hand to members of the forum who are not Catholic but still "represent communities suffering for their profession of faith in Jesus Christ." He lamented the growing Christian persecution that is happening all over the world, but more so in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

When Christians gather together despite their differences, the pope believes it "will give voice to the victims of such injustice and violence, and seek to show the path that will lead the human family out of this tragic situation."

He prayed that the modern martyrs of the world will help Christians "understand that all the baptised are members of the same Body of Christ, his Church."

"Let us see this profound truth as a call to persevere on our ecumenical journey towards full and visible communion, growing more and more in love and mutual understanding," Pope Francis said.