ROME — The Vatican press office distributed a report Thursday that said a total of 22 Catholic missionaries were violently killed during the year 2021.
Thirteen of the 22 slain missionaries were priests, one was a religious brother, two were religious sisters, and six were lay people, reported Fides news agency, which is the official information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies.
Regarding the continental distribution, the highest number is recorded in Africa, where half of the 22 missionaries were killed (seven priests, two religious, two lay people), followed by the Americas, with seven missionaries killed (four priests, one religious, two lay people), then Asia, where three missionaries were killed (one priest, two lay people), and finally Europe, where one priest was killed.
In recent years, Africa and the Americas have alternated in first place in this gruesome ranking and in the ten-year span from 2000 to 2020, a total of 536 missionaries were killed around the world.
The list of murdered missionaries includes parish priests killed in their communities or “tortured, kidnapped by criminals in search of non-existent treasures or attracted by the mirage of easy ransoms or to silence uncomfortable voices, which urged not to passively submit to the regime of crime,” Fides noted.
Others were priests running charities, such as in Haiti, “killed to rob them of what was needed to run such activities,” or even killed by those they were helping, such as in France or in Venezuela, as well as “nuns hunted down and killed in cold blood by bandits in South Sudan.”
In its report, Fides notes that the slain missionaries on its list are just the tip of the iceberg, since it includes only the names of people of whom it has certain information.
“To these must be added the long list of the many, of whom perhaps we will never have news or whose name we will not even know, who in every corner of the planet suffer and pay with their lives for their faith in Jesus Christ,” it declares.