Pope Francis dedicated the Sunday Angelus to persecuted and suffering Christians around the world. He prayed the Angelus on Sunday with faithful gathered in St Peter's Square for Mass to mark the Feast of Christ the King and to close the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI.
In brief remarks before the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, Pope Francis greeted the pilgrims who had come from all around the world to take part in the celebrations.
He also had special greetings for the Ukrainian community, which is commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Holodomor - the great famine provoked by the Soviet Union, in which many millions of people perished.
Pope Francis also expressed gratitude to missionaries who throughout the history of the Church have taken the Good News to the ends of the Earth. Below, please find Vatican Radio's translation of Pope Francis' remarks.
Before concluding this celebration, I wish to greet all the pilgrims, families, Church groups, movements and associations, who have come from many countries. Greetings also go to the participants of the National Congress of Mercy; I also greet the Ukrainian community, which is commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Holodomor, the "great hunger" caused by the Soviet regime, which caused millions victims.
On this day, our gratitude goes to the missionaries who, over the centuries, have proclaimed the Gospel and spread the seed of faith in many parts of the world, among them Blessed Junipero Serra, the Spanish Franciscan missionary, whose 300th birthday we are marking this Sunday.
I would not like to conclude without a word of thanks to all those who worked so hard during this Year of Faith: to Archbishop Rino Fisichella [President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization], who guided this journey. I heartily thank him and all his co-workers. Many thanks!
Now let us pray the Angelus together. With this prayer, we invoke the protection of Mary, especially for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted because of their faith.