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Report: 37 Catholic Missionaries,
Priests Killed in 2009

BY FRANCIS X. ROCCA                                                                                          ©2010 Religion News Service
   
hirty-seven Catholic priests and missionaries were killed in 2009, the highest number in 10 years and nearly twice as many as in 2008.
   
The statistics, which appear in a report by the Vatican's Fides agency, include not only missionaries to non-Catholic countries, but "pastoral workers who despite serious risk remained at their post to care for the people entrusted to them."
   
The largest share of those killed were found in the Americas. Eighteen priests, two seminarians, one nun and two lay people died violently in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Cuba, El Salvador, the United States, Guatemala and Honduras.
   
Six priests were killed in Brazil alone, prompting the country's bishops to issue a statement denouncing the violence. One of the victims was a Spanish priest who had spent 34 years helping street children before being murdered by a 15-year-old thief, Fides said.
   
"Many were killed in attempted robbery or kidnapping," according to the report. "Others were eliminated because they opposed hatred with love, despair with hope, violent opposition and the right to abuse with dialogue."
   
Africa accounted for 11 of the pastoral workers killed, four of them in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Two missionaries were killed in Asia. The only reported killing in Europe was of a French priest, "murdered by one of the mentally unbalanced he ministered to."






 
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