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The number of Catholic priests, lay leaders, and missionaries assassinated increased last year, according to a report by an Italian Catholic organization. Twenty-two Catholic church leaders and faithful were murdered in 2013, reported the Fides News Agency of Rome.
This number was comprised of 19 priests, 1 nun, and two lay leaders. It is an increase from 2012, which had a total of 12 murders.
"As it has been for some time, Fides' list does not only include missionaries ad gentes in the strict sense, but all pastoral care workers who died violent deaths," reads a Fides article. "We do not propose to use the term 'martyrs', if not in its etymological meaning of 'witnesses' since it is up to the Church to judge their possible merits and also because of the [scarcity] of available information in most cases, with regard to their life and even the circumstances of their death."
The number does not include priests or other pastoral care workers who have been abducted and whose demise have yet to be confirmed.
Fides' report also found that Latin America was the region for which the majority of the murders took place for the fifth consecutive year.
"Seven priests died in Colombia; four in Mexico; one in Brazil; one in Venezuela; one in Panama; and one in Haiti," reported Catholic News Agency regarding Fides' numbers. "Most of the victims were killed during robbery attempts, and in some cases the attacks were ferocious."
According to its website, the Fides News Agency was founded in 1927 via the order of the mission-focused the Council Superior General of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
"Since its inception, Fides has become a great centre for the collection and production of material information on the missionary world, through current news and photographs, studies on the missions and on the work of missionaries," reads the "About Us" section on their website in part.