20th Century Saw 65% of Christian Martyrs, Says Author

Conclusions of New Study Published in Italy

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ROME, MAY 9, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The 20th century may have been the most striking in the annals of Christian martyrdom, and a new book shows it with numbers.



In two millennia of Christian history, about 70 million faithful have given their lives for the faith, and of these, 45.5 million -- fully 65% -- were in the last century, according to "The New Persecuted" ("I Nuovi Perseguitati").

Italian journalist Antonio Socci presented his work today during a conference on "Anti-Christian Persecution in the 20th Century" held at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum.

"I handed in the draft of the book in January; since then the martyrdom of Christians has had no letup," the author noted. "Suffice it to think of what is happening in Colombia and Indonesia."

In the journalist´s analysis, the term "Christian martyrs" is not understood in the specific sense of the word (with the recognition of the Church´s processes of canonization), but according to the common assessment of scholars who have compiled statistics on religious persecutions.

Socci´s map of the current persecution highlights countries where Christians are dying for their faith.

It includes the Molucca Islands of Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, East Timor, Cuba, the former Soviet republics, Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries, Vietnam, China and others.

According to the author, the two currents that fuel the persecution of Christians today are Communism and Muslim fundamentalism.

Socci said that persecution of Christians is currently most severe in Sudan.