at the Nat’l Catholic Reporter:
In two weeks, on May 25, the Catholic church will celebrate what is quite possibly the most important beatification of the early 21st century. Italian Fr. Giuseppe “Pino” Puglisi will be recognized as a martyr in a Mass celebrated in Palermo on the island of Sicily, where he was assassinated in 1993 for challenging the Mafia’s hold.
The event probably won’t get a lot of media play outside Italy, especially since the pope isn’t going to be on hand. Yet make no mistake: Puglisi is not only a terrific story, but his beatification marks a profound evolution in the Catholic understanding of martyrdom and “anti-Christian” persecution generally.
According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, approximately 100,000 Christians around the world have been killed “in a situation of witness” each year in the past decade. That works out to 11 Christians killed every hour. Other experts question that number, but even the low-end estimate puts the tally of Christians killed every day in circumstances somehow related to their faith at 20, meaning almost one per hour.
The rise of this new generation of martyrs is the most important Christian story of our time, and Puglisi is an ideal patron saint for making the defense of believers at risk a transcendent Christian cause.