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Vatican Says Number of Murdered Missionaries is Just 'Tip of the Iceberg'

December 30th 2017

Mexico crosses

According to an account by Vatican authorities, in 2017 there were 23 Catholic missionaries and pastoral care workers were killed worldwide. Among them were 13 priests, one religious brother, one religious sister,  and eight lay persons. For the eighth consecutive year, the place most affected, with an extremely elevated number of pastoral care workers killed is in the Americas, where eight priests, one religious brother, and two lay people were killed. In Africa, 10 pastoral care workers were killed (4 priests, 1 religious sister, 5 lay people), while in Asia, one priest and one lay pastoral worker were killed.

In January, the body of Father Joaquin Hernandez Sifuentes was found in northern Mexico. He was the victim of home invasion, abduction, and murder.

Between, 2000 and 2016, there were 424 pastoral care workers and religious killed, including five bishops. The majority of the pastoral care workers were killed in robberies and violent attacks.

According to the FIDES news service, the number known to have been murdered are only the tip of the iceberg. The provisional list compiled annually by FIDES, "must therefore be added to the long list of many of whom there may never be news, who in every corner of the world suffer and even pay with their lives for their faith in Christ."

FIDES claimed that little investigation has been conducted by local authorities into the murders. In one exceptional case, defendants in the case of the murder of Father Vicente Canas in Brazil in 1987 were acquitted for lack of evidence. But after a new trial, the instigator of the murder -- the only survivor -- was convicted in 2006.


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