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 CNS Story:

MISSIONARY-DEATHS (UPDATED) Dec-31-2007 (330 words) xxxi

Vatican agency names church workers who died for others in 2007

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- From the war-torn lands of Iraq and Sri Lanka to violence-ridden neighborhoods around the world, at least 20 Catholic Church workers were murdered or sacrificed their lives for others in 2007, the Vatican's Fides agency said.

Each year, Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, publishes a list of pastoral workers who died violently. The 2007 list was released Dec. 29. The Fides report included a priest whose death was found most likely to be self-induced and accidental.

While Fides does not refer to the missionaries as martyrs -- technically a term reserved for those the church formally recognizes as having given their lives for the faith -- it said it was important to remember their sacrifices and to recognize that "each one of them, in a different way, contributed to the growth of the church in various parts of the world."

The list included Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni and three subdeacons who were shot outside a church in Mosul, Iraq, in June; and Father Nicholaspillai Packiyaranjith, a diocesan priest who worked with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Mannar, Sri Lanka, and was killed in September when a roadside bomb exploded as he was driving to a refugee camp.

Fides also highlighted the case of Sister Anne Thole, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Family, who died in April trying to rescue three patients trapped in a fire in an AIDS clinic in Ratschitz, South Africa.

The Fides' list included 14 priests, the three Iraqi subdeacons, a Marist brother, Sister Thole and a seminarian from the Society of St. Paul.

Besides the four killed in Iraq, two died in Mexico, three died in the Philippines, two died in Colombia, two in Spain, two in South Africa and one each in Brazil, Guatemala, Kenya, Rwanda and Sri Lanka.

END


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