According to the Vatican’s missionary agency Fides, 29 missionaries were killed in the world in the year 2019: six laymen, two women religious, two men religious, one Permanent Deacon and 18 priests.
In Africa, 12 priests were killed, one religious, one nun, one seminarian and one layman (15); in America, six priests were killed and one Permanent Deacon, one Religious and four laymen (12); in Asia, one layman (1) and in Europe one nun (1).
“After eight consecutive years, during which the highest number of missionaries killed was recorded in America, since 2018 it’s Africa that is in the first place of this tragic classification,” states Fides.
Fides also notes that there is a sort of “globalization of violence.” “If in the past, the missionaries killed were largely concentrated in one nation or geographic area, in 2019 the phenomenon seemed more generalized and widespread,” in 10 countries of Africa, eight of America, one of Asia and one of Europe.
In this context, Fides quotes Pope Francis’ words for the Extraordinary Missionary Month of last October. “I desire that the 100 years celebration of (Benedict XV’s Apostolic Letter) Maximum Illud constitutes in the month of October 2019, a propitious time so that prayer, the witness of so many saints and martyrs of the mission, biblical and theological reflection, catechesis and missionary charity contribute to evangelize first and above all the Church, so that having rediscovered the freshness and ardour of the first love for the crucified and Risen Lord, she is able to evangelize the world with credibility and evangelical efficacy.” It was in these terms that Pope Francis, on addressing the General Assembly of the Pontifical Missionary Works, on July 3, 2017, referred to the witness of so many missionaries who gave their life for the Lord Jesus, as one of the four dimensions to take into account in the celebration of the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019.”