Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.
In today's edition:
- 37 Catholic Missionaries, Priests Killed in 2009
- Two Christian Aid Groups Suspended in Afghanistan
- Nigeria Foreign Minister: Conflicts More than Religious
- Pakistani Christian Girl Allegedly Raped in Captivity
37 Catholic Missionaries, Priests Killed in 2009
A new report by the Vatican found that 37 Catholic priests and missionaries were killed in 2009, the highest number in 10 years and nearly twice as many as in 2008. Religion News Service reports that the statistics, which appear in a report by the Vatican's Fides agency, include not only missionaries to non-Catholic countries, but "pastoral workers who despite serious risk remained at their post to care for the people entrusted to them." The largest share of those killed were found in the Americas. Eighteen priests, two seminarians, one nun and two lay people died violently in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Cuba, El Salvador, the United States, Guatemala and Honduras. Six priests were killed in Brazil alone, prompting the country's bishops to issue a statement denouncing the violence.
Two Christian Aid Groups Suspended in Afghanistan
The Associated Press reports that Christian aid groups Church World Service and Norwegian Church Aid must cease their work in Afghanistan until Afghan authorities can investigate allegations against the two groups of proselytizing to Muslims. "They are investigating whether the groups were proselytizing or not," said Mohammad Hashim Mayar, the deputy director of the Afghan government office that oversees nongovernment organizations, known as NGOs. "They will report back and also assess what is the impact of closing these NGOs. The investigation will include whether other groups or individuals are involved." The Islamic nation forbids foreign aid groups from sharing messages counter to Islam. Both organizations have denied the charges.
Nigeria Foreign Minister: Conflicts More than Religious
Nigeria's minister of foreign affairs says the world outside Nigeria has "largely misunderstood" the violence within the country, saying it is "much more complicated" than a strictly Muslim versus Christian conflict. According to the Christian Post, Henry Odein told a visiting World Council of Churches delegation last week that the "issues are of social and economic nature." More than 500 people have been killed this year in the religiously-tinged violence in Plateau and neighboring states. Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, chairman of the Plateau State division of the Chritain Association of Nigeria, stated that the conflict is not about Muslims versus Christians. "It is not the religions that are fighting but some people who adhere to the religions that are involved," Kaigama said. "There is no war between the two faiths."
Pakistani Christian Girl Allegedly Raped in Captivity
ASSIST News Service reports that Sidra Sarwar, a 14-year-old Christian girl, has been allegedly raped by three Muslim men and held in captivity for about three months. Muhammad Khalid, a Muslim, verbally harassed Sidra when she was walking through the local fields in August 2009. He and two accomplices then allegedly kidnapped her at gun point on August 28, 2009. Sidra was held for a month and allegedly raped by all three men. Khalid married Sidra after she became pregnant to avoid being prosecuted. She escaped back to her family in late December. "The poor family tried best to get a case registered against Khalid and his fellows but failed. After a month some Christian elders helped Sidra and pressurized local police and finally the Police First Information Report was registered against the culprits on January 20, 2010", said Sohail Johnson, Chief Coordinator for Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan (SLMP).