- Feb 23, 2021
Attacked because of their faith, killed in a robbery, murdered in a general climate of violence or struck down by someone with obvious mental difficulties, the 20 missionaries who died violent deaths in 2020 were witnesses of the Gospel, said Fides, the Vatican’s missionary news agency.
Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, raised eyebrows this weekend when he said the next step for the Vatican and China would be to establish formal diplomatic relations and spoke of a possible future papal trip, yet experts say official ties are still a long way off.
The Catholic Church must follow Jesus’ command to preach the Gospel to every person, otherwise it will not fulfill its mission of bearing witness to Christ, Pope Francis said.
The Catholic Church in China registered 48,556 baptisms in 2017, reflecting the vitality and missionary strength of the Catholic communities there, according to a report by Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
Fides said 23 people working for the church worldwide — 13 priests, one religious brother, one religious sister and eight lay persons — died violent deaths in 2017; that number was down from 28 people killed in 2016.
New Catholic population numbers released in advance of today’s 91st World Mission Day confirm that the southern hemisphere, containing most of the so-called “developing world,” has become the new demographic center of gravity of the Church. Today more than two-thirds of all Catholics live outside the West, and that share is growing all the time.