Murdered for Their Faith, Never Forgotten

Mar 24, 2023 | Spirituality and Community Life

In the midst of Lent, a time that many devoutly observe, and during a week when people are encouraged to raise awareness about the need to better care for the environment and the Earth, the Claretian Missionaries do not want March 24th to go unnoticed.

Many Christian communities on all five continents associate this date with the memory of pastoral workers, especially missionaries, who were murdered for their faith.

As St. John Paul II once highlighted, the 20th and 21st centuries have produced more martyrs than the early days of the Church. The Claretian Family knows this firsthand.

The memory of these Christians murdered for their faith is associated with March 24th, when Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero, canonized by Pope Francis in 2018, was assassinated in 1980 while celebrating the Eucharist.

Together with thousands of Italian Christians and non-Christians, the community of the General Curia of the Claretian Missionaries has recently remembered Don Giuseppe Diana, a young Italian priest murdered in his parish sacristy in March 1994 by the mafia, who could not tolerate his brave commitment to freeing young people from the seduction of violence and easy money.

Those following the Claretian Year for their spiritual journey had the opportunity on March 15th to learn about Father Modesto Arnaus, CMF, a Catalan missionary murdered in Chocó (Colombia) in 1947 for confronting a local leader who sought to manipulate the votes of the region’s inhabitants. The same Claretian Year commemorates the memory of Father Rhoel Gallardo, CMF, from the then-province of the Philippines, who was murdered along with a group of children and teachers from the Claret School of Tumahubong (Basilan, Philippines) in 2000.

It was precisely in 2000 when the Fides agency, linked to the Pontifical Mission Societies, began to record the number of murdered Christian pastoral workers, which exceeded 500 between 2000 and 2021. The 2022 statistics report the murder of 18 pastoral workers during the past year. Mexico, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo top the list, with African and American countries alternating at the top in recent years. The list, both sad and glorious, includes nuns, religious brothers, priests, laypeople, and seminarians murdered in seven nations. Along with many other Christians, the Claretian Missionaries will remember them in the coming days.

Source | General Prefecture of Apostolate

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