More church workers were killed in Nigeria than in any other country in 2017, according to a Vatican agency.
Fides said at least 23 people working for the Church were killed worldwide last year. Most were victims of attempted robberies, the agency said.
Ten pastoral workers were killed in Africa, five of them in Nigeria, and two workers were killed in Asia, both in the Philippines, the report said.
Eleven were killed in the Americas. Four of those deaths were in Mexico, the nation where the greatest number of priests in Latin America are killed.
Among those killed in 2017, Fides said, were 13 priests, one Brother, one Sister and eight lay people. The number was down from 2016, when 28 people were killed.
“Once again the majority of the pastoral care workers were killed in attempted robbery, and in some cases violently attacked – a sign of the climate of moral decline, economic and cultural poverty, which generates violence and disregard for human life,” the agency said in its report. “Hardly any investigations conducted by the local authorities led to identifying and convicting the perpetrators and the instigators of these killings or the reasons why they were carried out,” it added. Those killed “are only the tip of the iceberg”, it said, as the report does not include the number of pastoral workers or Catholic faithful who are assaulted, beaten, robbed or threatened. Nor does it document properties owned by the Church that are attacked.
According to Fides, 424 pastoral care workers, including five bishops, were killed worldwide between 2000 and 2016.
ISIS claims it carried out deadly Cairo church attack
Eleven Egyptians, most of them Coptic Christians, have been killed by gunfire in south Cairo.
Egypt’s public prosecutor has filed murder charges against an unnamed suspect following the attack last week.
According to reports, a gunman on the back of a motorcycle opened fire at a Christian-owned shop in the Helwan district of Cairo, and then at the nearby Mar Mina church, a Coptic place of worship.
Local reports suggested that one of those on the motorcycle was killed, while the other initially escaped but was later captured. Two unexploded bombs near the church were later dismantled by explosives experts.
ISIS claimed to have carried out the killings but did not provide evidence. The terror group frequently claims responsibility for attacks in Egypt.
More than 100 Copts have been killed in Egypt in the past year. Checkpoints have been set up around Cairo, and security officers were stationed outside churches in anticipation of terrorist attacks against Christians over the Christmas period. Christians make up 10 per cent of Egypt’s population.
Erdoğan: Pope is ally on Jerusalem
Pope Francis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have spoken by telephone about the status of Jerusalem.
The Vatican press office confirmed the call took place and said that it was Mr Erdoğan’s initiative. The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported that Mr Erdoğan and Francis both expressed satisfaction with the UN resolution calling on the US to rescind its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.