More than 400 million Christians live in countries that persecute churches — and that persecution is only worsening, according to the leader of a Roman Catholic human rights organization based in Italy.
Alessandro Monteduro, director of ACS-Italia, the Italian chapter of Aid to the Church in Need, told Vatican News in an interview published last week that there were around 416 million Christians who live “in lands of persecution.”
“I want to clarify that ‘living in lands of persecution' does not mean ‘persecuted,’ but living in a land of persecution, however, exposes you daily to risks that may arise due to the behavior of the persecutors,” explained Monteduro, as rendered by Google translate.
“Unfortunately, all the reports of the charity agencies, but also those reports that involve the states most willing to do so, such as the United States and Great Britain, tell of a tightening of their conditions.”
Monteduro also told Vatican News that in “certain areas of the planet,” such as the continent of Africa, “the suffering of Christian communities is worsening” due to religious intolerance.
“Across Africa, from sub-Saharan Africa to East Africa, there are at least a couple of dozen terrorist organizations that have the ambition, from their point of view, to install caliphates in their territories,” he continued.
He also spoke of violent persecution in India due to local fears that Christian groups are trying to convert Hindus to Christianity, adding that there was “too much indifference to these tragedies.”
Monteduro’s concerns over the rising intolerance of Christianity in Africa were echoed by the ecumenical Christian group Release International and its Persecution Trends 2022 report.
Release International cited multiple African countries, as well as the nations of India and North Korea, as regions that were “of growing concern” for local Christian communities.
In 2021 in Burkina Faso, for example, local Islamic terrorists engaged in a host of attacks on churches, including bombings, school burnings, assaulting places of worship and murders.
Release International also expressed concern about Afghanistan, which was recently taken over by the Taliban shortly after the U.S. pulled its troops out but left its military equipment.
“In 2022, there is a very real threat of higher levels of violent persecution in Afghanistan,” stated Release International CEO Paul Robinson, as part of the report.
“Our partners tell us that Christians who are unable to follow the outward forms of Islam, such as praying at the mosque and saying the shahada, the Islamic profession of faith, will stand out more clearly.”