VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Twenty-four priests, religious and laypeople were killed in 2006 while carrying out their missionary work — just one person less than 2005’s figure.
The Vatican missionary agency Fides published the report on deaths, not only of missionaries but also of all the ecclesiastical personnel who died violently or sacrificed their lives, aware of the risk they faced, rather than abandon their commitment to give witness and engage in the apostolate.
The list of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples avoids explicitly the term “martyrs,” so as not to intervene in the judgment that the Church might eventually give on them.
Nevertheless, the Church proposes them for remembrance and prayer for their eternal rest.
Africa is the continent that registered the greatest number of victims last year: nine priests, a nun and a lay volunteer died violently. In Kenya three priests were murdered, and in Nigeria, two priests disappeared.
The second continent marked by violent deaths in 2006 is America, where six priests, a nun and a layman lost their lives. The Church lost two of its members in Brazil.
Two priests, a nun and a layman lost their lives in Asia.
One religious died violently in Oceania.
Fides explained that the list is provisional, as the names must be added of those on whom there will never be any information, those who “suffer in all corners of the planet and pay with their lives for their faith in Christ.”