The year 2023 saw its first victim among the missionaries on its second day. This is happened in Burkina-Faso. On Monday, January 2, Fr. Jacques Yaro Zerbo was assassinated by unidentified men.
According to a statement sent to Agenzia Fides and signed by Msgr. Prosper Bonaventure Ky, Bishop of Dédougou, the 67-year-old priest was killed in the locality of Soro, in the region of Boucle du Mouhoun, in the northwest of Burkina Faso.
Fr. Jacques Yaro Zerbo was born on December 28, 1956 in Kolongo, in present-day Mali, and was ordained a priest on July 19, 1986 in Dédougou.
The Boucle du Mouhoun region (north-west) is one of the regions most affected by terrorism in Burkina Faso. In this region, at least 28 civilians were killed overnight of Friday, December 30 to Saturday, December 31, in “reprisals” for a “terrorist” attack in the town of Nouna, capital of the province of Kossi.
This is an opportunity to remember that, according to Fides, in 2022, 18 missionaries lost their lives in the exercise of their functions: twelve priests, one religious, three nuns, a seminarian, and a lay person.
As happens every year, the highest number of victims is recorded in Africa: nine killed, i.e., seven priests and two nuns. After Africa, Latin America is in second place: eight killed in 2022, i.e. four priests, one brother, one sister, one seminarian, and one lay person, killed mainly by drug traffickers – in Mexico in particular.
It must be said that since 2011, Africa and Latin America have been vying for first place in this tragic ranking. From 2001 to 2021, the total known number of missionaries who lost their lives worldwide is 526.
The obituaries of the victims offer a panorama of their lives: priests killed on their way to celebrate Mass, or a sister assassinated while on duty at the diocesan health center. And then another killed during the attack by a group linked to the African jihad, when she had preferred, rather than fleeing, to bring the young girls boarding at the mission to safety.
Oderunt me gratis – “they hated me without reason” – prophetically sings Psalm 68, which alludes to the future sacrifice of Christ. In all apostolic suffering, in fact, there is latent the mystery of participation and conformity to the Passion of the Lord.