(Vatican Radio) 2014 was a grim year for the number of Church workers around the world killed by violence or the deadly Ebola virus. In its annual report, Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, states that 26 pastoral workers were killed – 3 more than in the previous year.
Tracey McClure reports..
The Fides report for years has centered on religious killed around the world but recently, it has focused on all church workers “who died violently.”
According to Fides, 17 priests, one religious brother, six religious women, a seminarian and a lay person were killed in 2014 – many during robberies characterized by particular “brutality and ferociousness” indicating they stemmed from intolerance and “economic and cultural poverty.”
For the sixth year running, the majority – 14 - were killed in the Americas, followed by Africa, Asia, Oceania and Europe. Over the last ten years (2004-2013) 230 pastoral workers were killed, three of them bishops.
Of those murdered in the Americas, four priests and a seminarian were killed in Mexico; two other priests were murdered in the U.S., one in Canada, and five others and one seminarian in South America.
Many of those killed in Africa succumbed to Ebola, which has infected more than 20,000 people so far this year. As the Prior General of the Hospitallers of St. John of God, Fr. Jesus Etayo wrote, 18 of the order’s religious and lay workers at Catholic hospitals in Liberia and Sierra Leone “gave their lives for others like Christ.”
The report also recalls the unknown fate of three Assumptionist priests from Congo who were kidnapped in October 2012 and of Italian Jesuit Father Paolo Dall’Oglio who was abducted in Syria in 2013. Nothing is known either about the fate of Indian Jesuit Father Alexis Prem Kumar, kidnapped in June 2014 in Herat. He was the director of Jesuit Refugee Service in Afghanistan.
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