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Rome Reports

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One in eight Christians around the world experiences persecution

Anti-Christian persecution has grown in intensity and scope. This is revealed by the latest report from Open Doors, an NGO which documents such cases around the world each year. They estimate that one in eight Christians experiences persecution.

Director of Open Doors
“Three hundred ten million Christians around the world suffer different forms of persecution because of their faith.” “Today, there are 73 countries where Christians face a form of persecution we define as 'high.'”

Since 2012, North Korea has ranked first as the black hole of religious freedom, where the mere possession of a Bible is punishable by forced labor or confinement to concentration camps. Burkina Faso has made it on the list for the first time, on account of the growing levels of violence in the Sahel, where in 2019, over 250 civilians were killed in attacks led by Al-Qaeda. Many of them were perpetrated against religious sites full of believers.

This extreme persecution affects Christians in 11 different countries. Their suffering is the ecumenism of blood of which Pope Francis speaks.

Director of Open Doors
“The persecutor doesn't make any distinctions. That's why we laid out, in our analysis, a definition of persecution. That way we could see the real numbers. This definition is based on a simple concept, namely, 'Is your identification with Christ a cause of persecution?'”

The NGO's leaders presented these statistics during a meeting in the Italian Chamber of Deputies.

Beyond the chilling numbers are the people. That's why Rev. Moushi traveled from Syria, to say that one of the consequences of the war is the worsening of persecution against Christians.

He is from Qamishli, a city on the Turkish border where many Christians have been victims of violence because of their faith. He was kidnapped in order to be tried for a very concrete crime.  

Pastor in Qamishli, Syria
“I thank God because they freed me quickly. The crime they accused me of was constructing a new building for the Church without authorization.” “Nevertheless, I chose to stay in Syria because God called me to stay in Syria.” “I can speak clearly about persecution against Christians because the bombings and conflicts took place in neighborhoods with Christian majorities. The targets were their homes and shops.”

Syria continues to be one of the countries where Christians are steadily disappearing because of extreme persecution.

The Open Doors report contains alarming statistics. In 2019, 2,983 Christians were killed because of their faith. That's eight per day. Moreover, 9,488 churches were attacked, an average of 26 every 24 hours.

Ángeles Conde
Translation: Claudia Torres