January 3, 2000
volume 11, no. 1
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

Statistics provided by FIDES
    VATICAN (FIDES/ -- As it does every year, on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the Vatican news agency FIDES published a list of Church personnel killed in mission territories during the past year: 1999. This year the total is 31, priests, religious men and women, catechists and seminarians.

    The list is never complete, because many martyrs are nameless, while many more suffer a martyrdom which will never be known and are said only to be "missing."

    In many religious institutes, when the news arrives that a missionary has been killed, the community goes immediately to the chapel or church to sing the Magnificat, the prayer Our Lady sang out when she learned of the twofold pregnancies--her own and that of her cousin Elizabeth. The news of martyrdom is thus welcomed not with a funeral lament, but with rejoicing for a fruitful life.

    This is why the publication of the list of martyrs-- witnesses to the faith in 1999, at the beginning of the Jubilee-- is an integral part of the rejoicing for the beginning of the Holy Year. The Jubilee Year is a year of grace, conversion, pilgrimage, of passing through the Door, who is Christ himself, as Pope John Paul II recalled on Christmas Eve.

    What "grace" is hidden within martyrdom, a death which most people woulc consider a misfortune? Looking at the list of priests, sisters and catechists killed in 1999, the first "grace" or "thanksgiving" is for the witness given by Catholic Church as she goes out to the whole world, truly "catholic"--and not only in the geographical sense. The martyrs listed come from the world's trouble spots, immersed for years in war and violence, violation of human rights, and tyrannical oppression.

    Colombia, East Timor, Congo, Sierra Leone: these are countries which, when looked at through the eyes of the secular media, are deemed to be without hope. But the martyrdom of these 31 witnesses to Christ proves that the Church was and is there, preaching faith, peace, forgiveness, and love for each and every one. The death of a martyr is a sign that these places of desperation have been redeemed, made holy because there Christ himself is at work to make fruitful the sacrifice freely offered by his disciples.

    Many of these Gospel workers were killed while on a journey: going to celebrate Mass in the forests of Congo, carrying help to refugees in Timor, preaching along the river banks in Colombia. The journey-pilgrimage that the Pope calls us to undertake with the Holy Year has these martyrs as a model: it is a call to carry along the roads of the world the presence of Christ so that every man and woman is welcomed and loved in his dignity as a child of God.

    A martyr's sacrifice also has beneficial social effects: it was their death for example in East Timor, which awakened and convinced the international community to send a multi-national force to defend those people who had opted for independence.

    It is worth underlining another aspect: the Sisters in East Timor, or the missionaries in Colombia, or Mother Teresa's Sisters in Sierra Leone, died for Christ while serving the needs of the men and women with whom they shared day to day life. It is ever more common to see the martyrdom of those who share, for love of Christ, a situation of violation of human rights. We could say that these are the new martyrs of the "Church's social teaching"-- a condemnation of those political powers which suffocate or deny the dignity of individuals.

    In May 2000, the Pope will celebrate the Day of the Witnesses of the Faith, commemorating together with Catholic martyrs, those of other Christian churches-- Lutherans, Anglicans, Orthodox. These martyrs are a sign of the new Christianity of 2000, and they make present today the sacrifice that Jesus Christ offered for the world. Together they are a sign of hope for the men and women of the third millennium: models for a new humanity, capable of giving up their life, rather then suppressing that of others.

    - Father Bernardo Cervellera,
    - Director, FIDES

List of Church Personnel killed in Mission Countries in 1999

(In this list, the individual's name is followed by his nationality, diocesan or religious affiliation, and the place and date of his death. In some cases this information-- even the victim's name-- may be lacking.)

  • 1. Rev. Albino Saluhaku/Angolan/diocesan/Huambo , Angola/Jan. 6
  • 2. (catechist)/Angolan/Huambo , Angola/ Jan. 6
  • 3. (catechist)/Angolan/Huambo Angola/ Jan. 6
  • 4. Sister Maria Aloysius/Indian/Missionary of Charity/Freetown, Sierra Leone/Jan. 22
  • 5. Rev. Hector Fabio Rojas/Colombian/Friars Minor/Guayaquil, Ecuador/Jan. 23
  • 6. Rev. Cipriano Ibanez/Spanish/Society of Don Bosco/Moca ,Santo Domingo/Jan. 26
  • 7. Sister Carmeline/Kenyan/Missionary of Charity/Freetown, Sierra Leone/Jan. 29
  • 8. Sister Swewa/Bangladeshi /Missionary of Charity/Freetown, Sierra Leone/Jan. 29
  • 9. Sister Hindu/Indian/'Missionary of Charity/Conakry, Guinea-Bissau/Feb. 5
  • 10. Rev. Albert Peleman/Belgian/Benedictine/Petersburg, S. Africa/Feb. 14
  • 11. (seminarian)/Angolan/Ganda, Angola/Feb. 26
  • 12. Rev. Jaime Orlando Acevedo/Colombian/diocesan/Chinacota, Colombia/Mar. 23
  • 13. Rev. Paul Juakali/Congolese/diocesan/Kalembe, D. Congo/Apr. 7
  • 14. Rev. Pedro Léon Camacho/Colombian/diocesan/Cachira, Colombia/May 19
  • 15. Rev. Carlos Francisco/Angolan/diocesan/Londwinbali Angola/Jun. 5
  • 16. Sister Generosa Toyi/Burundian/Bene-Tereziya/Mubimbi, Burundi/Jun. 30
  • 17. Rev. Arul Doss/Indian/diocesan/Orissa, India/Sept. 1
  • 18. Rev. Hilario Madeira/Timorese/diocesan/Suai, East Timor/ Sept. 6
  • 19. Rev. Francisco Soares/Timorese/diocesan/Suai, East Timor/ Sept. 6
  • 20. Rev. Tarcisius Dewanto/Indonesian/Jesuit/Suai East Timor/ Sept. 6
  • 21. Rev. Karl Albrecht/German/Jesuit/Dili East Timor/ Sept. 6
  • 22. Sister Celeste de Carvalho/Timorese/Canossian/Los Palos East Timor/Sept. 25
  • 23. Sister Erminia Cazzaniga/Italian/Canossian/Los Palos East Timor/Sept. 25
  • 24. Jacinto Xavier (seminarian)/Timorese/diocesan/Los Palos East Timor/Sept. 25
  • 25. Fernando Dos Santos (seminarian)/Timorese/diocesan/Los Palos East Timor/Sept. 25
  • 26. Valerio Conceicao (seminarian)/Timorese/diocesan/Los Palos East Timor/Sept. 25
  • 27. Rev. Umberto Negrini/Italian/Serv. Div. Prov./Luanda, Angola/Oct. 30
  • 28. Rev. Pedro Claver Ramirez Salazar/Colombian/Capuchin/Buga, Colombia/Nov. 8
  • 29. Sister Berthilde Ndayishimiye/Burundian/Bene-Tereziya congr/Musenyi, Burundi/Nov. 8
  • 30. Rev. Jorge Luis Maza/Colombian/diocesan/Quibdo, Colombia/ Nov. 15
  • 31. Rev. Georges Kakuja/Congolese/diocesan/Kalonge, D. Congo/Nov. 22
    • - 31 Church personnel killed in mission territories in 1999;
    • - 17 priests (10 diocesan, 7 religious);
    • - 8 nuns (of 3 different ongregations);
    • - 4 seminarians;
    • - 2 catechists;

      Grouped according to origin by continent:

    • - 10 Africans (Angola 5, Burundi 2, Democratic Congo 2, Kenya 1);
    • - 11 Asians(Timor 6, India 3, Bangladesh 1, Indonesia 1);
    • - 5 Americans (Colombia 5);
    • - 5 Europeans (Italy 2, Belgium 1, Germany 1, Spain1).

      Grouped according to country of death:

    • - 15 in Africa (6 in Angola, 3 in Sierra Leone, 2 in Burundi, 2 in Democratic Congo, 1 in Guinea, 1 in South Africa);
    • - 10 in Asia (9 in East Timor, 1 in India);
    • - 6 in America (4 in Colombia, 1 in Ecuador, 1 in the Dominican Republic).

  • January 3, 2000
    volume 10, no. 1

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