Coronavirus, terrorism, and war – and once again a growing level of persecution. The year 2020 has been a difficult one for many Christians around the world. At the end of the year, Thomas Heine-Geldern, the executive president of the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), took stock of the main areas of persecution, the work in defense of religious freedom, and also the signs of hope and the help that has been given. He was interviewed by Maria Lozano.
2019 was a terrible year for Christians. Has the situation improved or worsened during 2020?
In many countries, the coronavirus and its consequences have led to a further undermining of peoples‘ right to religious freedom. During this time many already oppressed Christians have suffered a real via Crucis of poverty, exclusion, and discrimination. On top of this, there have been many deadly attacks against Christians. During 2020 Africa, in particular, has once again been a “continent of martyrs”. In this context, I would like to remember, among others, the Nigerian seminarian Michael Nnadi, murdered in Nigeria, and Philippe Yargas, a catechist from Pansi in Burkina Faso, also murdered for his faith. And also all those victims of religious persecution who are still, as far as we know, alive – in particular Sister Gloria Narvaez in Mali.