'Christians are persecuted because they wear the cross'

"The Bible is therefore a highly dangerous book so dangerous that you are treated in some countries as if you were hiding hand grenades in your closet."

Pope Francis addresses attendees in the opening ceremony to commence a plenary meeting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York September 25, 2015.

In this week’s publication of the Catholic bulletin, Aleteia, Pope Francis stated that the Bible is a highly dangerous book, for the fact that thousands of Christians are arrested or murdered for owning one.

"There are more persecuted Christians in the world today than in the early days of the Church. And why are they persecuted? They are persecuted because they wear a cross and bear witness to Jesus. They are convicted because they own a Bible," Francis wrote.

Francis also spoke about his fond memories of his personal Bible, which he has owned for half of his life, and also exhorted people to read the Bible.

"So you have something divine in your hands: a book like fire! A book through which God speaks. So notice: The Bible is not meant to be placed on a shelf, but to be in your hands, to read often — every day, both on your own and together with others," continued Francis.

"You do sports together or go shopping together. Why not read the Bible together as well two, three, or four of you? In nature, in the woods, on the beach, at night in the glow of a few candles … you will have a great experience!"

Francis' words about the Bible being such a dangerous book come as groups like Open Doors USA have noted a growing trend of persecution for Christians even in nominally Christian countries.

David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, noted this back in January during the release of the group's annual World Watch List documenting worst persecutors of Christians.

"Even Christian-majority states are experiencing unprecedented levels of exclusion, discrimination and violence," said Curry in a statement.

"The 2015 World Watch List reveals that a staggering number of Christians are becoming victims of intolerance and violence because of their faith. They are being forced to be more secretive about their faith."

Meanwhile, Pope Francis is coming to Africa!

According to the Vatican, Pope Francis will visit a refugee camp and a mosque in the Central African Republic as well as a slum in Kenya during his trip to Africa next month from November 25 to 27 and then spend the next two days in Uganda and travel on to the Central African Republic (CAR), where the trip will end on November 30.

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