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Catholic World News

23 Church workers killed in 2010

December 30, 2010

The Fides list avoids use of the word “martyr,” the Church has not officially ruled on the circumstances of the deaths. Most of the deaths appear to be the result of ordinary criminal activity rather than hatred for the Catholic faith. But Fides lists all those who died while engaged in full-time work for the Church. Latin America accounted for most of the deaths: 14 pastoral workers were killed there this year (5 in Brazil, 3 in Colombia, 3 in Mexico, 2 in Peru, and 1 each in Venezuela and Ecuador). There were 6 killings in Asia (2 in Iraq, 2 in China, and 1 each in Turkey and India); 3 in Africa (all 3 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo); and 1 in Haiti. The Fides list provides the names of those who died, with the dates and circumstances of their deaths. Along with a number of botched robberies and assaults attributable to personal grudges, several incidents offer more disturbing details:

  • Bishop Luigi Padovese was killed by his driver at his home in Iskenderun, Turkey, on June 3. Although the driver (who had been recommended to the bishop by government officials) shouted an Islamic slogan after the murder, Turkish authorities have insisted that the assailant of the Italian-born official was emotionally disturbed, not a religious fanatic.
  • Father Carlos Salvador Wotto was found dead in Oaxaca, Mexico, on July 28. He had evidently been bound and tortured before being suffocated. He died in a region marked by frequent violent clashes between drug traffickers and police.
  • Father Herminio Calero Alumia was killed at a police roadblock in Colombia on August 20. Confused reports from the scene indicate that the priest’s traveling companions had been engaged in a scuffle with the police—for reasons that are not clear—when a shot was accidentally fired, killing him.
  • Father Wasim Sabieh and Father Thaier Saad Abdal were killed by gunmen who burst into the Syrian Catholic cathedral in Baghdad during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on October 31. A third priest was seriously injured in the attack; about 50 lay people died, and dozens more were injured.


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