The Pope has urged the world ‘not to remain mute’ in the face of persecution such as the Kenyan massacre last week.
He added that the number of Christians being martyred today surpasses that of the first century.
“Persecuted Christians are the martyrs of our time. May the international community not remain mute and inert in the face of this crime,” he said.
He has pleaded with the international community not to ‘look the other way’ as he becomes increasingly vocal about the targeting of Christians by Islamic extremists in parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
It is estimated that between 8,000 and 10,000 Christians are killed for their faith every year worldwide.
In his Easter blessing he asked for ‘peace for beloved Syria and Iraq’.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, described the 21st century as a new era of Christian martyrdom.
He told the Canterbury Cathedral congregation: “To witness is to be a martyr.
“There have been so many martyrs in the last year. On Maundy Thursday, three days ago, around 150 Kenyans were killed because of being Christian. They are witnesses, unwilling, unjustly, wickedly, and they are martyrs in both senses of the word.”
Prime minister David Cameron has issued a video message in which he defended the right of the Church to partake in political debate.
“We have a duty to speak out about the persecution of Christians around the world too,” he said.
“It is truly shocking to know that in 2015 there are still Christians being threatened, tortured – even killed – because of their faith. In the coming months, we must continue to speak as one voice for freedom of belief.”
Deputy PM Nick Clegg said: “While politicians in the UK are busy on the campaign trail, we must not forget the cruel and barbaric killings that took place in Kenya.
“The thoughts of people here are very much with the families and friends of the murdered students in Garissa University.”
Ed Miliband took to Facebook to state that Christians were living in ‘fear and uncertainty’ around the globe.
“In the midst of the Easter celebrations our hearts go out to those who face difficult times both overseas and closer to home.
“My thoughts are particularly with Christians in Syria, Iraq and other countries where the church suffers terrible persecution.”