Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, we continue to follow the spread of the Gospel throughout the world. In the early Christian community some complained that their widows were being neglected in the distribution of bread. The Apostles, aware of their principal calling to preach the Word of God, discerned a solution to maintain the harmony between the service of the Word and service to the poor. They instituted seven men, on whom they imposed hands, to carry out works of charity. One of these seven deacons, Stephen, proclaimed Christ’s Paschal Mystery as the key to the whole history of the covenant, but his words met with resistance. Yet, even when condemned to death, Stephen entrusted his life into the Lord’s hands and forgave his adversaries. The actions of this first martyr teach us that our identity as God’s children consists in abandoning ourselves to the Father and forgiving those who offend us. Let us ask the Lord that, by contemplating the martyrs of the past and present, we may live a full life, accepting the martyrdom of daily fidelity to the Gospel and conformity to Christ.
The Pope also greeted the various English-speaking groups present at the Audience:
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially the groups from England, Scotland, Denmark, Malta, Norway, Kenya, Australia, Mariana Islands, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and the United States of America. In a particular way my greeting goes to the new seminarians of the Venerable English College as they begin their priestly formation here in Rome. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless you!