According to the sociologist of religion, Massimo Introvigne, the killing of Christians is not only a phenomenon linked to past centuries; it is still alive today
vatican insider staff
Christian martyrdom is not only a phenomenon of bygone centuries, such as the era of the Roman Empire. On the contrary: “the martyrdom era is in fact ours.” This is according to the sociologist and scholar of religion, Massimo Introvigne, OSCE Representative on Discrimination against Christians, who spoke in the aftermath of the Christmas bomb attacks on Christian churches in Nigeria, as the Church celebrated the Feast of St. Stephen, its first martyr.
“It is strange how when one speaks of martyrdom, many think back to the Roman Empire,” Introvigne told Vatican Radio. He added that “of course this is true, but it would be good is not only the Christians directly involved, but everyone, knew that from a historical point of view, the era of martyrdom is in fact ours.” According to a statistical study “carried out by the top specialist in modern religious statistics, David Barrett,” “between the date of Jesus Christ’s death and today, there have been 70 million Christian martyrs, but of these, 45 million – that is more than half –were recorded in the 20th Century and in the early 21st Century.”
Introvigne recalled how John Paul II also invited us “to reflect on the fact that the 20th Century was the century of martyrs, reaching its peak during the horrors of communism and national socialism and this martyrdom has continued on into the 21st Century.”
The OSCE Representative on Discrimination against Christians explained that among the situations in the world today that cause the greatest alarm, “certainly the first that comes to mind, is the reality of Islamic ultra-fundamentalism.” Then “there is a second category, that of Countries which are still influenced by Communist ideology.” The third category, involves “any form of nationalism with religious undertones in other areas of Africa and Asia, where Christians are seen as an alien group and almost as traitors of local culture.”
“But we should also consider what happens here in the West, in Europe,” Introvigne pointed out. Although “there is nothing that can compare to the violence witnessed in certain parts of Africa and Asia,” there is still a “subtle and sometimes not so subtle attempt to discriminate, marginalise and push Christianity to the sidelines, denying Christian identity and Christian roots; various different attempts are made to attack the Church and the Holy Father.”