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Vatican Publishes 2006 Martyrdom List

For the full article, go to Spero News. In addition to the well-known cases of Sister Leonella Sgorbati and Father Andrea Santoro, murdered in Muslim countries, missioners met violent death elsewhere in the world where they taught and lived the Gospel.


The Vatican published on December 30 its roster of missionaries who died violently while spreading the Gospel in 2006. According to the Congregation, 24 priests, professed religious, and lay people were murdered in various parts of the world. Africa , where both Islam and Christianity are making great leaps in gaining adherents, was where the majority of the murders of these Christian witnesses took place.


The Congregation also made note of the thousands of other Christians around the world who, while their names may be unrecorded, nevertheless gave their lives as testimonials to the Faith. Catholic and non-Catholic Christians have been assaulted and murdered in places like Afghanistan , China , Iraq , Pakistan , and the Sudan .
Recently, for example, ten Catholic bishops who did not conform to the Chinese State-controlled People’s Church were arrested. Their whereabouts is currently unknown. Chinese priests and bishops have long suffered martyrdom and imprisonment under the Communist rule of the Peoples Republic of China .


Martyrology of 2006


Father Elie Koma SJ, a native of Burundi . In the city of Bujumbura , the 59-year-old priest was shot in the back by automatic fire. He was the pastor of one of the poorest slums of Bujumbura .


-Father Andrea Santoro, a priest of the diocese of Rome , was shot to death while in prayer at his church in Trabzon Turkey by a teenaged assailant who later boasted of having killed a priest.


-Father José Alfonso Moreira, a native of Portugal , was murdered in Angola at point-blank range by assailants who had invaded his home. The 80-year-old priest had been known for his charity and neutrality during the wars between political factions after the fall of the Portuguese colonial power in the 1970s.
-Father Michael Gajere of Nigeria was murdered during protests by Muslims upset by the publication in Europe of cartoons of Mohammed they deemed offensive. During the mêlée, four Catholic churches and a bishop’s residence were destroyed, along with an Anglican cathedral and various other Christian places of worship. Fifteen other persons were murdered. Father Gajere, who had only recently been made pastor of parish in Maidugiri was able to save the leaders of the parish youth groups before being killed.


-Father Galgalo Boru, of Kenya , and a companion were murdered by bandits who opened fire on their vehicle near village of Lososia , Samburu District, in Kenya .


-Father Jude Kimeli Kibor of Kenya worked in prison ministry for the last five years and was found murdered near the settlement of Eldoret. The 57 year-old priest was on his way to celebrate Mass when he was apparently waylaid by his assailants who killed him and stuffed his corpse into the back of his car. He had once studied in the United States but returned to his native land to help his people despite the dangers he well knew.


-Father John Mutiso Kivaya, a thirty-five-year-old Kenyan priest and assistant pastor in Masinga was murdered in the town of Tala in July. Bandits interrupted Father Kivaya while he was eating dinner with two other priests. The armed men shot and killed the priest and two other persons.

-Father Chidi Okorje, a thirty-one-year-old priest from Kenya was murdered in Ebonyi State of that country during the night of August 4, 2006. He was stabbed to death at his residence at St. Mary’s Catholic Church at Afikpo. He had been ordained in 2004.


-Father Pascal Koné Naougnon of the Ivory Coast was murdered in the town of Divo , where he had been a missioner since 2003. He was shot point-blank and died in hospital. Born in Ivory Coast to a family of animist beliefs, he requested Baptism at the age of twelve. At age 25 he entered the Neo-Catechumenal Way movement and was ordained a priest after studying at a seminary in Peru . He was known for his work with young people, having provided vocational training in order for them to find work.


-Father Waldyr dos Santos SJ, a Brazilian, and Portuguese volunteer Idalina Neto Gomes were murdered in the early hours of November 6 in Mozambique by a group of armed men who had entered the priest’s residence in the town of Angonia . Located in the border region of Mozambique , Malawi , Zambia , and Zimbabwe , missioners and churches are frequent targets of armed assaults.

-Sister Leonella Sgorbati, a 66-year-old Italian nun, was shot to death on September 17 in Mogadishu Somalia while she walked to the hospital where she worked. She had been a missioner in Africa since 1970, having served for years in Kenya and Somalia . In Mogadishu , Sister Leonella had started a nursing school to train both Muslims and Christians.

-Father Eusebio Ferrao, the 61-year-old pastor of St. Francis parish in Macasana in Goa , India , was murdered in March 2006 after being suffocated by assailants with his pillow. A native of India , Father Ferrao was known for his devotion to his parishioners.


-Sister Maria Yermine Yamlean, of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, was murdered when she surprised a burglar who had entered her convent. The assailant stabbed the 33-year-old nun and Indonesian native, who died soon after in hospital in the city of Ambon , Moloccan Islands , Indonesia . She had been very active in the Charismatic Movement and had guided the order’s novices.

-Monsignor Bruno Baldacci, a 63 year-old priest of the Italian diocese of La Spezia, was found murdered in his parish residence Bahia Brazil having been apparently bludgeoned to death. Father Baldacci had been notable for his work with drug-addicted young people

-Jacob Fernandez, a layman, was managing a Catholic bookstore when he was murdered in November in Tamil Nadu India by a machete-wielding madman who had demanded to see a priest. The assailant demanded the return of land claimed by Hindus where a Catholic chapel is located. Fernandez left a widow and three children. Two years ago, a Catholic priest was beheaded in the same region.


-Brother Augustine Taiwa, a 40-year-old member of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of the Cross and a native of New Britain , was murdered near Port Moresby , the capital of New Guinea . The missioner was attacked at the Xavier Institute where he had been in charge of courses on parish ministry. A group of drunks attacked the missioner’s vehicle, striking him in the head with a steel rod.

-Father Ricardo Antonio Romero, a 53 year-old priest of El Salvador was murdered on the highway between the towns of Acajutla and Sonsonate. He was beaten and battered by stones, allegedly by a drug gang. He had been a pastor in Santa Catarina Masahuate where he had been known for his evangelization and charitable efforts for the poor.

-Johnny Morales, a 34-year-old cooperating of the Salesian order was murdered in a ambush as he left for work on December 8, 2006. He was cut down by multiple bullet wounds. He worked at the Father Sergio Checchi Salesian Center with his wife of one year. Two days before, Morales had been assigned to work at Tecún Umán, a Guatemalan town bordering Mexico that is known for gangs involved in narcotics, prostitution, and human trafficking.

-Brother Luís Alfonso Herrera Moreno OFM, was a Franciscan friar of 46 years born in in Colombia . He was killed after being assaulted with stones while on his missionary rounds in the area of Bonda Colombia .

-Sister Karen Klimczak of the Sisters of St Joseph was 62 years of age when she was murdered on Good Friday in Buffalo NY in 2006. She had dedicated her life to aiding the poor and had been working at Bissonette House to reincorporate ex-convicts to society. One of the former prisoners, in the course of a robbery, murdered her and hid her body in an abandoned dwelling. Her corpse was not found until Easter Sunday.

-Father Luís Montenegro , 77 years of age, had been pastor for 30 years at his parish in La Calera Cordoba in the foothills of the Argentine Andes. He was found dead on the morning of April 12, having suffered multiple stabbings by a prisoner who had been released by the police.

-Father Jorge Piñango Mascareño, serving as undersecretary of the Venezuelan Conference of Bishops was found murdered on the morning of April 24 in Caracas . A graduate of the Javieriana University of Colombia and the Gregorian University in Rome he had taught at various universities and seminaries. The circumstances of his death are still under investigation.

-Father José Carlos Cearense, a diocesan priest of 44 years of age, was found stabbed to death with his hands bound behind his back in his residence the state of Minas Gerais Brazil . His body was found by his housekeeper. The police later detained an alleged maniac who had committed a series of such murders during the months of April and May 2006.