Christians are among the most persecuted religious groups in the world, with approximately 90,000 killed for their faith in 2016, stated representatives of a leading religious study group. Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) director Massimo Introvigne told Vatican Radio that half a billion Christians around the globe are unable to express their faith completely freely, while estimates indicate one Christian died every 6 minutes for their faith during 2016.
Referring to statistics from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, Italian sociologist and intellectual property consultant Introvigne said 70 percent of Christians murdered in 2016 died in tribal conflicts in Africa. These deaths were included, he said, because very often they involved Christians who refuse to take up arms for reasons of conscience, reports Breitbart.
"The other 30 percent, or 27,000, were killed in terror attacks, the destruction of Christian villages, or government persecution," he said.
Center for the Study of Global Christianity researchers started tracking Christian persecution by estimating the number of Christians who died as martyrs between 2000 and 2010, which they said was about one million, and divided that number by 10 to get an annual number: 100,000, reports BBC. The majority died in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But, as BBC points out, the DRC is a Christian country -- in the civil war, Christians were killing Christians.
Introvigne told Vatican Radio the Catholic Church is considering possible sainthood for individual Christians killed in territories controlled by the Islamic State terror group. Some Christians, he said, had risked almost certain death by staying in these territories to give testament to their faith.
Vatican reporter and author of "The Global War on Christians," John Allen, said someone caught up in the civil war in DR Congo could be martyred. "A female catechist in Congo, who is having success persuading young people in her area not to sign up with the militias, and she is killed by one of those forces because they don't want to see the sources of recruits dry up. Now is that anti-Christian violence, or isn't it?" he asks.
Statistics also indicate the number of Christians killed is down from 105,000 in 2015 - although Introvigne points out, they remain the most persecuted religious group on the planet.
Introvigne is the author of more than 60 books. The collection of books on religion of CESNUR "is regarded as the largest collection in Europe and the second in the world in its field," according to its own website.
In March, the Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo reported that in just five years of conflict, the Christian population of Syria has been reduced by two thirds from 1.5 million to just 500,000. Most Syrians who remain, he added, live in areas controlled by the secular government of Bashar Assad as they flee Islamist rebels.
The city of Aleppo finally fell to government forces earlier this month, but much of the city, including its three cathedrals, is in ruins.