Los Angeles, California – The Vatican’s news agency, Fides, has released its annual report on Catholic missionaries who were murdered in 2023. The report highlighted that many of the victims were living normal lives in areas plagued by violence. According to the report, these missionaries did not engage in sensational actions or extraordinary deeds that would have drawn attention to themselves and put them at risk.
The agency reported that a total of 20 pastoral workers were killed in 2023, including one bishop, eight priests, two religious brothers, one seminarian, one novice, and seven laypeople. This number was slightly higher than the previous year’s count of 18 missionaries who died violently.
Among those mentioned in the report was Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell, who was found dead in his home on February 18, 2023, after being shot multiple times. The report also included the case of U.S. Fr. Stephen J. Gutgsell, 65, who died after being stabbed in the rectory of his parish in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, on December 10, 2023.
Fides stated that the highest number of missionaries killed was in Africa, with nine missionaries murdered, followed by the Americas with six, Asia with four, and one in Europe. The report also mentioned the case of a Palestinian mother and daughter who were shot by an Israeli army sniper in Gaza on December 16, 2023. In addition, a layman in Europe was killed by a machete attack in southern Spain.
The list highlighted the dangers faced by missionaries around the world as they continue to carry out their Christian commitments despite the risks involved. The release of the report serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by these individuals and the challenges they face in their efforts to bring comfort and support to underserved communities.
In summary, Fides’ annual report on murdered Catholic missionaries in 2023 noted the tragic deaths of 20 pastoral workers around the world, highlighting the dangers faced by those who continue to carry out their Christian commitments in areas plagued by violence. The report serves as a sobering reminder of the risks and sacrifices made by these individuals while serving marginalized communities.