During 2021, 22 missionaries were killed worldwide—two more victims than in 2020—the Vatican agency Fides reported December 30, 2021.
Half of those missionaries, the report said, were priests. Among them: the Frenchman Fr Olivier Maire, a Montfortian religious.
Fides—an agency which operates in seven languages, including Chinese and Arabic, which depends on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples—publishes an annual survey of Catholics who “died violently” in the course of their mission.
According to the data collected last year, 13 priests, 1 religious, 2 nuns and 6 lay people were officially listed. Africa has the highest number of missionaries killed, with 11 (7 priests, 2 religious, 2 lay people), including four priests in Nigeria and one religious and one lay person in South Sudan.
The other four missionaries were in Angola, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, and Uganda.
The American continent comes next with seven missionaries killed (4 priests, 1 religious, 2 lay people), four of them in Mexico, and the others in Venezuela, Peru, and Haiti; then Asia, where 3 missionaries were killed (1 priest in the Philippines, 2 young lay people in Burma). Most of them were not foreigners; they died in the very land where they were born, notes Fides.
In Europe, a priest was killed: Fr Olivier Maire, Provincial of France of the Montfort Missionaries, found dead in Vendée on August 9.
A migrant of Rwandan origin, known to the police for having set fire to the cathedral in Nantes in July 2020, and whom the religious community was sheltering under judicial supervision, gave himself up to the police and confessed to the crime.
In recent years, Africa and America have taken turns at the top of this “tragic list,” the agency notes. But these figures represent only “the tip of the iceberg” because Fides only takes into account the most reliable data; the names of many victims will never be published.
From 2001 to 2020, the same source reports, 505 missionaries have been killed worldwide. “They could not fail to bear witness,” says Fides, praising their Christian witness in “the small gestures of each day.” (Aleteia.org)