In its latest annual report, Fides released the names of all of the pastoral workers killed in a violent manner due to their faith in the year of 2011.
The Fides News Agency, created by order of the Council Superior General of the Pontifical Society, revealed that 26 pastoral workers, including bishops, priests, and religious laity, had lost their lives over the last 12 months – one more than last year.
Among those killed were 18 priests, four religious sisters, and four lay people, with the highest percentage of deaths occurring in America, which accounted for 15 of the deaths. Africa, Asia, and Europe, the least affected continent, followed in order after America.
The news agency noted that the Americas remained, for the third consecutive year, the most affected area. Deaths occurred in Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Paraguay and Nicaragua.
“As in ancient times, today the sincere adherence to the Gospel may require the sacrifice of life, and many Christians in various parts of the world are sometimes exposed to persecution and martyrdom,” Fides quoted Pope Benedict XVI in their report.
The organization expressed that while some of the victims had been killed in attempted robbery or kidnapping, others were killed “in the name of Christ by those opposing love with hatred, hope with despair, dialogue with violent opposition.”
Though much of their biographical information remained limited, Fides shared that all of the brothers and sisters killed professed “a sincere adherence to the Gospel, not only in words, but with the testimony of their lives, in situations of suffering, poverty, tension, degradation, violence ... without discrimination of race, caste, religion, with the sole aim of ensuring the Father’s love and promoting the human person, every man.”
Their publicized list did not just include missionaries “ad gentes in the strict sense,” but all pastoral care workers who died violent deaths.
They also shared that they did not use the term “martyr” because it was up to the church to judge their possible merits and because of the scarcity of available information in most of the cases in regards to their lives and even the circumstances surrounding their death.
“The provisional list compiled annually by Fides, must ... 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.”
“They are the ‘cloud of unknown soldiers for the great cause of God,’ according to the words of Pope John Paul II,” the agency added.
Those who were found and listed included: a 37-year-old nun by the name of Sister Angelina who was murdered by militants of the Lord’s Resistance Army while she was bringing medical aid to refugees in South Sudan; Pastor Rafael Rojas and Richard Laguado who were both shot while traveling by an assassin in the southern outskirts of Colombia; G. Amalan, who was found dead in his room, naked, hands and feet bound, neck broken in southern India; and Romeu Drago who was killed in his home in Brazil and burned.
A large number of deaths were reported to have occurred in Colombia and Mexico.
“Our world continues to be marked by violence, especially against the disciples of Christ,” Pope Benedict XVI previously commented.
Amidst the persecution, the pope gently encouraged his parish that “he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22).
Fides News Agency was created in 1927 and is the first Missionary Agency of the Vatican informing and promoting missionary activity.
The Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith decided to establish Fides to raise awareness of missions to the people of God via the press, the organization states on its website. To read the full report of murdered missionaries for 2011, click here.