Missionary victims of violence in 2010

13/01/2011

Father José Luis Parra Puerto
Father José Luis Parra Puerto, killed in Mexico by thieves.
Catholic Mission has learned that 23 pastoral care workers died violently during 2010.

The list contains the names of one bishop, 15 priests, one religious brother, one religious sister, two seminarians and three lay people. The list includes missionaries who were working in regions where Christianity is still being sown among the people as well as all pastoral care workers in established territories who died violent deaths.

Many of the 23 were killed in attempted robberies or kidnappings which ended badly, caught in their homes by bandits in search of imaginary riches.

Others were killed in the name of Christ by those opposing love with hatred, hope with despair, dialogue with violent opposition, the right to perpetrate abuses. Central and South America accounted for 15 deaths; Asia six; Africa two.

In Mexico, Father José Luis Parra Puerto, 50, was abducted and died of wounds inflicted by thieves in a carjacking incident. Fr Luis Enrique Pineda SDB was murdered in Bogotà whilst travelling to visit relatives. On December 6, Fr Miroslaw Karczewski, 45, a Polish priest who had worked for five years in the parish of St Anthony of Padua in northern Ecuador was killed in his residence by thieves who stole his phone and computer. The weapon used by his murderer was a large crucifix. A year earlier housebreakers had threatened him with death should he identify them to police.

Fr Wasim Sabieh and Fr Thaier Saad Abdal died on 31 October 2010 during the attack on the Syrian Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad, when terrorists killed or injured dozens of innocent people as they gathered for Sunday Mass. A third priest was seriously injured. According to eyewitnesses, Fr Thaier told the intruders: “Kill me, not this family with children”, shielding them with his body. Iraqi Christians have made an online petition (http://www.martyrs-iraq.org/) asking the Church to officially recognise the priests as martyrs.

Bishop Luigi Padovese, President of the Turkish Episcopal Conference, was murdered by his driver on 3 June. An Italian and a leading Patristics scholar, Bishop Padovese represents the missionary who committed his life to the Church in a land not his own; a Church leader who drew others to Christ.

In inner Mongolia Fr Joseph Zhang Shulai, 55, Vicar General of the Diocese of Ningxia, and Sister Mary Wei Yanhui, 32, were killed in the house for the elderly which they ran by a disaffected layman who had been dismissed and who took his revenge.

'Their own safety was last priority'

Pope Benedict XVI has paid tribute to all the pastoral workers.

“Their radical and total commitment was the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, made not only with words but with the testimony of their lives, in situations of suffering, poverty, tension, violence...without discrimination of any kind, but with the sole aim of ensuring the Father's love and promoting the human person, created in the image and likeness of God. Some were victims of that violence, fighting it or being willing to help others with the small everyday problems, giving their own safety last priority.”

The Pope said to the list must be added “many whose faces we do not know, who in every corner of the world suffer and even pay with their lives for their faith in Christ. Pope John Paul II called them 'the cloud of unknown soldiers for the great cause of God to whom we look with gratitude and veneration, without which the Church and the world would be enormously poorer'.”

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