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Pope says be ready for sacrifice, even martyrdom

Pope John Paul II has called on all Christians to be ready to bear witness to the truth of Christ, even "at the cost of suffering and great sacrifice".

Speaking at the midday Angelus on Sunday, the Holy Father recalled the martyrdom of St John the Baptist (pictured), whom Jesus had called "the greatest among those born of women".

He said John the Baptist gave "the supreme witness of blood, sacrificing his existence for truth and justice; he was in fact decapitated based on the orders of Herod."

Referring to the encyclical Veritatis splendor, the Pope said martyrdom, like that of St John the Baptist, is "an eminent sign of the holiness of the Church," which "represents the summit of the testimony to moral truth."

Although relatively few are called to this supreme sacrifice, it is "testimony that all Christians must be ready to give every day, even at the cost of suffering and grave sacrifice."

Acknowleding the daily challenges of living the faith in today's world, the Pope said, "it sometimes requires a herioc commitment to not give up, even in daily life, to the difficulties that push us to compromise and to live the Gospel 'sine glossa' (without footnotes.)"

Pope says Christians must bear witness even to the cost of suffering (Catholic News Agency 30/8/04)

Veritatis splendor (text)
Pope prays for persecuted Christians around the world (Catholic News Agency 30/8/04)
All Christians Are Called to Coherence (Zenit 29/8/04)
Martyrdom is a "Sign of the Holiness of the Church" (Zenit 29/8/04)
Shrine's guardian says pope believes Mary is perfect model of belief (Catholic News Service 30/8/04)
Kazan icon returned, to differing reactions (Catholic World News 30/8/04)
Pope, Vatican unruffled by new terror threats (Catholic World News 30/8/04)
Tribute to martyrs at Pope's Sunday audience (Catholic World News 30/8/04)
Pope resumes normal schedule, at summer residence (Catholic World News 30/8/04)

31 Aug 2004