A new study has found that Christians are the most persecuted people on earth today. A research conducted by The Center for the Study of Global Christianity shows that every six minutes a Christian loses their life because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Director of Center for Studies on New Religions, Massimo Introvigne, revealed that about half a billion Christians worldwide are not able to openly express their faith.
Of the Christians who lost their lives in 2016, 70 percent were in Africa. These Christians were killed in tribal fights. Refusing to take up arms and take revenge on their enemies because of their faith, Christians in Africa received the most brutal treatment at the hands of non-Christians.
The remaining 30 percent of Christians lost their lives in terrorist activities. Most of the terrorist-related deaths were in countries that are ravaged by terrorists, such as Syria and Iraq. One of the biggest perpetrators of these crimes against humanity is ISIS.
Persecution of Christians is so high in Syria that in just five years of the civil war breaking out, the total Christian population has fallen from 1.5 million to a mere 500,000, according to the Bishop of Aleppo. That shows an eradication of two-thirds of the Christian population. Those that are alive are living in pathetic conditions, currently in areas controlled by the Syrian secular government’s forces. Their places of worship, however, lie in ruins around them.
The number of Christians killed in 2016 was lower than in 2015. The previous year, the figure was 105,000. However, the fact remains that even now it’s the Christians who are the most persecuted people in the world.
The Vatican has considered the possible sainthood of some of the Christians in places of high persecution. These people stayed back in the trouble-stricken areas despite the danger of imminent death only to bear witness to their faith. Having lost their lives for Christ, they may have qualified for sainthood under the Catholic Church.
On Monday, the pope called on all the faithful to remember the sufferings that their fellow Christians are going through in various parts of the world. The pontiff pointed out the example that was set by the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the first Martyr in Christian history. The pope also said that the number of Christians being persecuted today was much more than the early days of Christianity. The pope asked the gathering to take the example that today’s persecuted Church is presenting to the world in living a life faithful to the Gospel.