The World: Christians Martyred in 2009

Source: FSSPX News

On the occasion of the seventh anniversary of the death of Fr. Werenfried van Straaten, founder of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), more than 400 people were present on January 23 in the Jesuits’ church in Lucerne, dedicated to St. Francis Xavier. The Mass was celebrated by Msgr. Vitus Huonder, Bishop of Chur, Switzerland, for the Christian martyred in 2009 on five continents. Aid to the Church in Need, whose mission is to come to the aid of persecuted Christians throughout the world, had destined the collection for the  benefit of the Christians of Iraq.

Msgr. Huonder observed that if the Church was in need more or less everywhere in the world, even Switzerland was not spared this harsh reality, though in its case it was more a matter of moral need. During the intercessory prayers, the 27 Christians put to death for their faith last year were listed. Underscoring that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of new Christians,” the names of the 27 victims were inscribed on four large candles placed on the altar. Among them one might read notably the names of Fr. Bernard Digal, from the Indian state of Orissa, killed by Hindu extremists last August 25th; Ciza Deo, 57 years old and father of six children, killed last December 15 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and the eleven-year-old Pakistani Christian, Irfan Masih, murdered near Karachi last April 22 when Muslim fanatics attacked the Christian district.

In a report published December 30, 2009, the missionary news agency Fides, an organ of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, indicates that, according to its information, 30 priests, 2 religious sisters, 2 seminarians, and 3 lay volunteers “lost their lives in a violent manner in the course of 2009.” The Vatican’s missionary news agency pointed out that this figure was “the highest number in the last ten years,” and “nearly double the number reported in the preceding year.” The majority of the  religious and lay persons were killed on the American continents:  18 priests, 2 seminarians, 1 sister, and 2 laymen met their deaths in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Cuba, El Salvador, the United States, Guatemala, and Honduras. Africa followed, with 9 priests, 1 sister, and 1 layman killed in four different countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Kenya, and Burundi. Two priests were killed in Asia in 2009, one in India and the other in the Philippines. And finally, one priest was killed in Europe: the Frenchman Louis Jousseaume.

Thus 37 priests, religious, and laymen of the Catholic Church lost their lives by violence during the course of 2009. There were 20 such deaths in 2008, 21 in 2007, 24 in 2006, 25 in 2005, 16 in 2004, 29 in 2003, 25 in 2002, 33 in 2001, and 31 in the year 2000. So in ten years, from 2000 to 2009, there were 261 Catholics murdered throughout the world, among them 190 priests and 4 bishops.

(DICI No. 209, Feb. 6, 2010.—Sources: ACN/Fides/apic)