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Killings of Church workers soared worldwide in 2009

Catholic World News - May 27, 2010

There were 37 Catholic priests, religious, seminarians, and lay catechists killed on pastoral assignments in 2009: the largest number in the past 10 years.

The Fides news service has provided an annual accounting of all the Church workers who died violently last year: 30 priests, 2 nuns, 2 seminarians, and 3 lay volunteers. The list includes Church personnel who died in the course of other criminal activities, such as apparent robbery attempts, as well as those who were killed out of hatred for the faith.

Most of the victims-- 23 of the 37-- were killed in the Western hemisphere. There were 11 deaths in Africa, 2 in Asia, and 1 in Europe.

Six priests were killed in Brazil in 2009, prompting the country's episcopal conference to issue a statement of acute concern about the violence. There were also multiple killings in Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador, and Cuba.

In Africa, there were four murders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where civil strife has spawned widespread atrocities, and four in South Africa.

In Asia, two priests fell to the anti-Christian violence that plagued the state of Karnataka, while another priest known for human-rights activism was gunned down in the Philippines.

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