Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive World History

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive World History

Article excerpt

The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century.'A Comprehensive World History. By Robert Royal. (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company. 2000. Pp. x, 430. $39.95.)

In his study Robert Royal, president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C., shows how heroic were the sufferings of members of the Catholic Church during the twentieth century. Taking a cue from Pope John Paul lI's encyclical, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, this survey covers the victims of persecutions in Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. In that one century, millions were martyred, perhaps more than in all the previous centuries combined.

In Europe, the central focus of the work, Royal deals with both the West and East. The Russian Revolution and its consequences in Eastern Europe was responsible for the area's largest number of martyrs, among them many bishops, priests, religious, and lay persons. In Western Europe, the Spanish Civil War in the fourth decade of the century was marked by the brutal slaughter of 6,832 priests and religious, among them thirteen bishops, and the Nazi Regime, during the madness of its twelve years, brought about the suffering of individual religious groups of both men and women, including the Franciscan Maximilian Kolbe and the Carmelite Edith Stein, plus a number of distinguished lay persons.

As for Latin America, the Mexican Revolution in the first half of the century and the unrest in El Salvador in the second half of the century brought about more martyrs such as Miguel Pro and Oscar Romero. Other countries like Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, and Paraguay also produced victims killed in hatred of the faith.

In treating Asia, Royal recalls the martyrs of China, Korea, and Vietnam. In China, the victory of the Communists in 1949 began the persecution of both foreign and native Catholics among the laity and clergy, certainly in a greater degree than in either Korea or Vietnam. …

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