Irish bishop among 20 missionaries killed in 2023

Irish bishop among 20 missionaries killed in 2023 The late Bishop O’Connell. Photo: OSV News

Cork-born Bishop of Los Angeles David O’Connell was one of the 20 Catholic missionaries killed in 2023, according to the annual report from Vatican agency Fides.

Those killed while in the service of the Church include one bishop, eight priests, two men religious, one seminarian, one novice and seven laypeople.

Known as ‘the Peacemaker’, Bishop O’Connell (69) was shot dead in his Los Angeles home last February.

Carlos Medina (62) is charged with the murder and pleaded not guilty last March to the felony count of murder. He is expected to face trial later this year.

The Irish bishop was one of six missionaries killed in the USA and Mexico, while Africa was the deadliest continent for Church workers, with nine people suffering violent deaths.

In Asia, four Catholic lay people were murdered in 2023, including Gaza Catholics Nahida Khalil Anton, and her daughter Samar Kamal Anton, two active parishioners of the Holy Family Catholic Parish Church, who were killed by IDF (Israel Defence Forces) snipers on December 16.

Two Filipino Catholic students were among the victims of the recent bombing attack during a Mass at Mindanao State University in Marawi City.

In Europe, there was just one death, a lay person who was killed in Spain in early 2023. Diego Valencia, sacristan of the parish of Nuestra Senora de La Palma, in Algeciras, in the province of Cadiz, was stabbed in January by a young Moroccan armed with a machete, who also injured other people.

In the introduction to the report, Fides explained that it used the term ‘missionary’ in a broad sense, referring to “all the baptised engaged in the life of the Church”.

By virtue of their Baptism, “all the members of the People of God become missionary disciples”, and “that it considered all those who died in a violent way, not only ‘in hatred of the faith’”, Fides said.