Vatican reports 22 missionaries killed in 2021
TWENTY-TWO missionaries of the Roman Catholic Church lost their lives around the world this year — 13 priests, one religious Brother, two religious Sisters, and six lay persons — reports Fides News Agency, an agency of the Vatican. Half were killed in Africa, followed by the Americas (seven, including four in Mexico), Asia (three, in the Philippines and Myanmar) and Europe (one, Fr Olivier Maire SMM, in France, News, 12 August 2021). The most recent in Africa was Fr Luke Adeleke, a diocesan priest killed on Christmas Eve in a remote part of south-western Nigeria. “Missionary” is defined by the agency as “all the baptised engaged in the life of the Church who died in a violent way, not only ‘in hatred of the faith’”.
CSW alarmed by burial ruling in Egypt
A RULING issued by an administrative court in Alexandria, Egypt, on 27 December, could “potentially be used to deny burial rights to members of unrecognised religious and belief groups”, Christian Solidarity Worldwide warned this week. The charity says that Egypt’s constitution recognises only Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Other religious and belief groups, including Ahmadis, atheists, Baha’is, and humanists “do not enjoy the same legal and constitutional protections”. The court ruling states that local authorities are “not obliged to allocate land to be used as a cemetery for unrecognised religious and belief groups”.
Greek bishop who refused vaccine dies of Covid
A GREEK Orthodox Bishop, Metropolitan Kosmas of Aetolia and Acarnania, who refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19, has died of the virus, aged 76, the Athens news site ekathimerini.com reported on Monday. It described him as “vociferous critic of government measures to contain the spread of coronavirus, including mask use and vaccination”, and reported that, in 2020, he told a congregation: “God does not allow you to be infected.” His 75-year-old sister, also unvaccinated, died of Covid-related complications on 13 December.
Iranian Christians released from prison
A PASTOR in Iran, Matthias Haghnejad, was among nine Christians released from prison in the past week, pending a review of their sentences, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported on Tuesday. He was initially sentenced to five years for “endangering state security” and “promoting Zionist Christianity” (News, 6 March 2020, 3 December 2021). Eight other members of the Church of Iran denomination convicted alongside him also received five-year sentences.
Six reported murdered by Kenyan militants
SIX Christians were killed in the early hours of Monday by suspected al-Shabaab militants in Widhu village, on the northern coast of Kenya, close to the Somali border, International Christian Concern reports. Pastor Stephen Sila, of a church in Majembeni, told the charity that he had counted “seven houses that were torched down, four bodies of people burnt beyond recognition inside the houses. A body shot dead right outside a burnt house, and another beheaded body next to it. Other villagers escaped into the dark and the police are still looking for them.”