20 January 2017

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

These are the faces of innocent children, men and women. One, two, three and so on up to 215 million.

This is the number of people who suffer violence for the mere fact of being Christian.

The statistics have been revealed in the latest report by Open Doors, who for 60 years has taken the pulse of religious persecution in the world.

Its investigators analysed 50 countries throughout the world, totalling 4,800 million inhabitants. Out of these, 215 million are Christians and suffer a high, very high or extreme degree of persecution.

These figures estimate that one in 12 Christians in the world is a victim of violence based on religion. North Korea ranks first, where there is an absolute lack of freedom and, therefore, lack of freedom of religion. Somalia follows closely behind, where the conversion of a Muslim to Christianity can lead to death. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Iraq are unfortunately still on the list as well. Religious fundamentalism and jihadist terrorism prevent any favourable progress in these countries.

Additionally, Yemen has also joined the macabre "top ten" this year. The poorest country in the Middle East is still immersed in a civil war with Christians in the midst of crossfire. One example of this violence is the kidnapping of Father Tom, a Salesian priest taken by a jihadist group who also murdered four Missionaries of Charity.

The list also laments the escalation of violence in Southeast Asian countries such as India, Bangladesh, Laos, Bhutan and Vietnam. Open Doors says that in northern India some 40 million people suffer discrimination and violence from Hindu extremists.

In 21 of the 50 countries analysed, 100 percent of the entire Christian population suffers persecution. However, along with the recrudescence of the situation, there are also reasons for hope. There are more and more institutions or initiatives that warn of this persecution and even help those who put their lives at risk for not denying Jesus Christ.

Link to Rome Reports video

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