2018 was a deadly year for missonary priests. Forty Catholic missionaries were killed around the world over the past year, and thirty-five of those missionaries were priests.
For the past eight years, Latin America witnessed the greatest amount of missionary priest murders. This year, Africa replaces Latin America as the deadliest region for missionaries. Nineteen priests, one seminarian, and one lay woman were killed in Africa in 2018.
In the Americas, twelve priests and three lay people were killed. Three priests were killed in Asia, and one priest was murdered in Europe.
“Even in danger of their own safety, at the request of civil authorities or their own superiors, the Missionaries remained at their posts, aware of the risks which they were running, in order to remain true to the duties they bore,” Agenzia Fides, the information service for the Pontifical Mission Societies, reported.
Many missionaries were killed during robberies, “ferociously committed, in impoverished, degraded social contexts, where violence is the rule of life, the authority of the state was lacking or weakened by corruption and compromises, or where religion is used for other ends.”
Over the course of 2018, some of the murders made headline news, including the death of Father Carlos Riudavets Montes. Locals found his body in the school kitchen. The missionary priest served the Yamakai-Entsa indigenous group in the Amazonian jungle.
“We want to express how proud we are of the work and the mission of Father Carlos,” Father Victor Hugo Miranda, the spokesperson for the Peruvian Jesuit province said in an interview the Vatican News. “When he was ordained a priest, he was sent to the forest to work with indigenous people. He’d been working there since then, almost forty years. He was a teacher and the principal of the school. He was very close to the people.”