20 Missionaries Killed in 2023 Worldwide

Source: FSSPX News

Palace of the Propagation of the Faith, which houses Agenzia Fides

Every year Agenzia Fides publishes the number of Catholic missionaries killed throughout the world. This agency is the information branch of the Pontifical Mission Societies. It depends on the Dicastery for Evangelization. It was founded in 1927 as the first missionary agency of the Church and was one of the world’s first press agencies.

According to information gathered by Fides, 20 missionaries were killed around the world this year: a bishop, 8 priests, 2 religious, a seminarian, a novice, and 7 laypeople. Although the lists developed by Fides are always subject to updating and correction, there were 2 more missionaries killed in 2023 than in the previous year.

According to the continental distribution, this year—again—the highest number is recorded in Africa, where 9 missionaries were killed: 5 priests, 2 religious, a seminarian, and a novice. In America, 6 missionaries were killed: a bishop, 3 priests, and 2 laypeople. In Asia, 4 laypeople died from violence. Finally, in Europe, a layperson was killed.

Distribution by Country


Four victims were recorded in Nigeria: 2 priests, a seminarian, and a novice. Burkina Faso lost a priest and a religious. In Tanzania, a priest was killed. In Cameroon, a religious was killed. Lastly, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a priest was stabbed.


In Mexico, 2 priests were killed, as well as 2 young catechists. In the United States, the Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles was killed by the husband of his housekeeper, and a priest was killed in his rectory.


In the Philippines, 2 Catholic students, a young man and a young woman, were killed by an explosive device detonated during a Mass celebrated on campus at Mindanao State University, in the province of Lanao del Sur.

In Palestine, Samar Kamal Anton and her mother, Nahida Khalil Anton, were killed by snipers, denounced by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem as Israeli soldiers, while they were heading for the convent of the Sisters of Mother Teresa in Gaza. One of them was killed while she tried to carry the other to safety.


In Spain, Diego Valencia, layman and sacristan of the parish of Nuestra Señora de la Palma, in Algeciras, in the province of Cádiz, was killed by a young Moroccan armed with a machete, who wounded others.

Missionaries Killed Since 1980

According to the Agenzia Fides data, 115 missionaries violently lost their lives in the 1980s. However, this figure is undoubtedly underestimated because it refers only to recorded cases and those which had evidence.

The summary table for the years 1990 to 2000 shows a total of 604 missionaries killed. This figure is clearly higher than that of the previous decade due to several factors, including the genocide in Rwanda (1994), which caused the deaths of at least 248 victims among ecclesiastical personnel. For the years 2001 to 2022, the total number of pastoral agents killed is 544.