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Quotes and news

90,000 Christians killed in 2016 because of their faith

According to estimates by Massimo Introvigne, 90,000 Christians were killed in 2016 due to their faith.

This means that every six minutes a Christian is killed for his or her faith. Introvigne, who was speaking to Vatican Radio, is a sociologist who directs the Centre for Studies on New Religions.

The number of Christians killed in 2016 is great but fortunately it is less than the number killed in 2014 when it reached 105,000. Not-withstanding the reduction in number of deaths, according to Introvigne, Christians are still the most persecuted religious group in the world.

African tribal wars claimed over two-thirds of these death. The other 30 per cent were victims of terrorism, government persecution or the destruction of their towns.

Churches torched in Chile

According to Fides News agency, in the week before Christmas, two churches and a school were burnt down in Ercilia and in Chamichaco, Chile. The arson was committed by militants of the indigenous Mapuche people. Up to August 2016, 17 churches were torched in Chile.

Bishop Héctor Vargas Bastidas of Temuco condemned the attacks, saying they “do not contribute to an overall solution to the problems in the area, nor of the Mapuche people, nor of the rest of civil society”.

Bishop deplores the media

The “deafening silence of the media” in the face of violence and slaughter in South Sudan was strongly condemned by Bishop Erkolano Lodu Tombe of Yei, South Sudan, during an interview on Vatican Radio. The bishop also condemned what he described as the “indifferent gaze of the international community”.

Bishop Tombe said the world has ignored the massacres that have cost hundreds of lives in his diocese. In the Yei diocese, Bishop Tombe said: “Unfortunately only two parishes are functioning”. In other parishes, priests are unable to provide pastoral care because of constant violence.

Patriarchs regret persecution

Maronite Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Yonan and Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham said in different statements issued before Christmas that ME Christians continue to suffer from severe persecution.

Catholic News Service reported that Cardinal Boutros al-Rahi warned that terrorists are “killing and displacing families and depriving them of their rights and dignities”.

He called upon the UN to secure peace in the region and work for the return of Christian refugees to their homelands.

Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Yonan said Syrian and Iraqi Christians “endured the horrible consequences of war, violence and all kind of persecutions”. Patriarch Gregory III Laham warned that “today in the ME, the cradle of Christianity, the Christian presence is threatened... by wars that have given rise to this terrifying exodus, especially of Christians”.

Islamist terror in Nigeria

Bishop Joseph Bagobiri of Kafanchan, Nigeria, told Aid to the Church in Need that since September, “53 villages were burned down, 808 people murdered, 57 wounded, 1,422 houses and 16 churches destroyed”. He said that the mayhem against Christians was the work of the Islamist Fulani herdsmen in his region.

(Compiled by Fr Joe Borg)

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