A death squad is an armed group that conducts extrajudicial killings or forced disappearances of persons for the purposes such as political repression, torture, ethnic cleansing, or revolutionary terror. These killings are conducted in ways meant to ensure the secrecy of the killers' identities. Death squads may have the support of foreign governments, they may comprise a secret police force, paramilitary militia groups, government soldiers, policemen, or combinations thereof. They may be organized as vigilantes; when death squads are not controlled by the state, they may consist of insurgent forces or organized crime, such as the ones used by cartels. Although the term "death squad" did not rise to notoriety until the activities of such groups became known in Central and South America during the 1970s and 80s, death squads have been employed under different guises throughout history; the term was first used by the fascist Iron Guard in Romania. It installed Iron guard death squads in 1936 in order to kill political enemies.
It was used during the Battle of Algiers by Paul Aussaresses. In Latin America, death squads first appeared in Brazil where a group called Esquadrão da Morte emerged in the 1960s. Argentina used extrajudicial killings as a way of crushing the liberal and communist opposition to the military junta during the'Dirty War' of the 1970s. For example, Alianza Anticomunista Argentina was a far-right death squad active during the "Dirty War"; the Chilean military regime of 1973–1990 committed such killings. See Operation Condor for examples. During the Salvadoran civil war, death squads achieved notoriety on March 24, 1980, when a sniper assassinated Archbishop Óscar Romero as he said Mass inside a convent chapel. In December 1980, three American nuns, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, Maura Clarke, a lay worker, Jean Donovan, were gang raped and murdered by a military unit found to have been acting on specific orders. Death squads were instrumental in killing hundreds of suspected Communists. Priests who were spreading liberation theology, such as Father Rutilio Grande, were targeted as well.
The murderers were found to have been soldiers of the Salvadoran military, receiving U. S. funding and military advisors during the Carter administration. These events prompted outrage in the U. S. and led to a temporary cutoff in military aid at the end of his presidency. Death Squad activity stretched well into the Reagan years as well. Honduras had death squads active through the 1980s, the most notorious of, the army unit Battalion 316. Hundreds of people, teachers and union leaders were assassinated by government-backed forces. Battalion 316 received substantial training from the United States Central Intelligence Agency. In Southeast Asia, extrajudicial killings were conducted by both sides during the Vietnam War. For example, Viet Cong member Nguyễn Văn Lém, famous for being extrajudicially executed on camera by General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan on 1 February 1968 in Saigon, was himself claimed to have commanded a death squad targeting South Vietnamese policemen and their families during the Tet Offensive in Saigon.
As of 2010, death squads have continued to be active in several locations, including Chechnya, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Colombia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Somalia, Tanzania, Pakistan, Myanmar, Philippines among others. Death squads are active in this country; this appears to be difficult to stop. Moreover, there is no proof as to whom is behind the killingsIn an interview with the panafrican magazine "Jeune Afrique", Laurent Gbagbo accused one of the opposition leaders, Alassane Ouattara, to be the main organizer of the media frenzy around his wife's involvement in the killing squads, he successfully sued and won, in French courts, in cases against the French newspapers that made the accusations. In December 2014, Kenyan Anti-Terrorism Police Unit officers confessed to Al-Jazeera that they were responsible for 500 of the extrajudicial killings; the murders totaled several hundred homicides every year. They included the assassination of Abubaker Shariff Ahmed "Makaburi", an Al-Shabaab associate from Kenya, among 21 Muslim radicals murdered by the Kenyan police since 2012.
According to the agents, they resorted to killing after the Kenyan police could not prosecute terror suspects. In doing so, the officers indicated that they were acting on the direct orders of Kenya's National Security Council, which consisted of the Kenyan President, Deputy President, Chief of the Defence Forces, Inspector General of Police, National Security Intelligence Service Director, Cabinet Secretary of Interior, Principal Secretary of Interior. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and the National Security Council of Kenya members denied operating an extrajudicial assassination program. Additionally, the officers suggested that Western security agencies provided intelligence for the program, including the whereabouts and activities of government targets, they asserted that Britain supplied further logistics in the form of training. One Kenyan officer within the Council's General Service Unit indicated that Israeli instructors taught them how to kill; the head of the International Bar Association, Mark Ellis, cautioned that any such involvement by foreign nations would constitute a breach of international law.
The United Kingdom and Israel denie
Francis Xavier Ford
Francis Xavier Ford, M. M. was a Maryknoll missionary in China. Because of his torture by the Communist Chinese and death in prison in 1952, he is considered a martyr, the cause for his canonization has begun, granting him the religious title of Servant of God. Ford was born in the son of Austin Brendan Ford and Elizabeth Rellihan Ford, he attended Cathedral College in Manhattan. While studying there, he felt a call to respond to the vision of the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, just founded in 1911 by the Catholic bishops of the United States for overseas service. Upon completion of his high school studies, he was accepted by the Society; when Ford reported to the Maryknoll seminary in Ossining, New York, on 14 September 1912, he became the first student of the fledgling Maryknoll Society. He was the first person to matriculate in this institution, he was ordained on December 5, 1917, became one of the first four American Catholic priests to arrive in China in 1918. Francis Xavier Ford's cousin, Maryknoll sister Ita Ford, was one of four Catholic churchwomen who were tortured and murdered in El Salvador by members of a military death squad on December 2, 1980.
She had worked with the poor and war refugees as a Maryknoll Sister missionary in Bolivia and Chile. In 1918 Ford began to serve in the Province of Canton, in southern China, in 1921 opened the first Maryknoll mission in China, he was named Prefect Apostolic of a new mission in Kaying in northern Guangdong in 1925. The Prefecture was raised to the status of a Vicariate Apostolic in 1935, with Ford named as Vicar Apostolic, for which he was appointed the titular bishop of Etenna, he was consecrated a bishop by Bishop James Anthony Walsh, M. M. the Superior General of the Maryknoll Society on September 21, 1935. During twenty years of serving in Kaying, Ford increased his flock from 9,000 to 20,000, built schools and churches, he was chairman of the Chinese Catholic Welfare Conference for Southern China and played an important role in establishing the first overseas convent for the Maryknoll Sisters. When World War II started, Kaying was surrounded by Japanese troops; the bishop remained at his post, aiding Chinese guerrillas, helping downed Allied airmen escape, relieving war refugees in distress.
Shortly after the war ended, in April 1946, the vicariate was raised by the Holy See to the status of a full diocese, with Ford appointed as its first bishop. The victory of the forces of the Chinese Communist Party over the Nationalist forces of General Chiang Kai-shek in October 1949 marked a major shift in the fate of the Catholic missions. In December 1950 the Communists placed Bishop Ford and his secretary, Sister Joan Marie Ryan, M. M. under house charged them with espionage. Though never tried, Ford was taken from his home four months and publicly paraded and degraded in some of the cities in which he had done mission work since 1918, his treatment at the hands of the Communists is attested to by Ryan. In one town, a Communist-orchestrated mob beating was so intense that Ford's Communist guards fled. Though knocked to the ground Ford continued to walk calmly through the crowd until his guards returned. In another town, his neck was bound with a wet rope which choked him as it dried and shrank.
Another rope was made to trail from under his gown like a tail. To humiliate them both, the Communists forced Sr. Joan Marie to undress before Ryan; the last time she saw the bishop alive was in February 1952. She reported that his hair had turned white and he was so emaciated that a fellow prisoner remarked that he looked "like a sack of potatoes". Ford died in a prison in Guangzhou on February 21, 1952, he was the first American Roman Catholic bishop and fourth American civilian known to have died in the prisons of the Chinese Communists. Ford's diocese would have been the first Maryknoll territory to be turned over to the native clergy had the Communists not suppressed the local Catholic community. Ford was Maryknoll's first martyr, the first to be killed at the hands of Chinese Communists. Ford's remains were never found. At the time of his death, Ford had been a priest for a bishop for 16 years. A cause for the canonization of Ford has been introduced by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn.
Rev. John Vesey, pastor of St Michael's Catholic Church in Flushing, Queens, is the postulator of the cause. On July 27, 2011, George Weigel wrote an article for the First Things blog, questioning why Ford has not yet been beatified. Wiegel opined that the process has been put on hold because of Roman authorities' concerns about offending the Chinese government. Weigel further stated that " Catholics need the encouragement of a witness like that given by Francis Xavier Ford, whose blood may yet prove to have paved the King's Highway in the Middle Kingdom". In 1952, the Maryknoll Fathers in Hong Kong founded a co-educational primary school, named it Bishop Ford Memorial School; the school was the first founded by the Maryknoll Fathers in Hong Kong after the Second World War, is now managed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong. In 1962, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn named one of its high schools after Ford. Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School was accredited by the Regents of the State of New York and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
It was located in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn. Due to a 75% decline in enrollment between 2006 and 2014, the school closed at the end of the 2013-2014 academic year; the following are books by Bishop
Persecution in Lyon
The persecution in Lyon in AD 177 was a persecution of Christians in Lugdunum, Roman Gaul, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. An account of this persecution is a letter preserved in Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History, book 5, chapter 1. Gregory of Tours describes the persecution in De Gloria martyrum. Lugdunum was an important Roman city in Gaul. Founded on the Rhone river in 43 BC by Lucius Munatius Plancus, it served as the capital of the Roman province Gallia Lugdunensis; the emperor Claudius was born in Lugdunum. The first known Christian community established in Lugdunum some time in the 2nd century was led by a bishop named Pothinus from Asia Minor. In the first two centuries of the Christian era, it was local Roman officials who were responsible for persecutions. In the second century, the Caesars were content to treat Christianity as a local problem, leave it to their subordinates to deal with; until the reign of emperor Decius persecution was sporadic. For Roman governors being a Christian was in itself a subversive act, because it entailed a refusal to sacrifice to the gods of Rome, including the deified emperor.
By 177, a number of the Christians in the area of Vienne and Lyons were Greeks from Asia. Before the actual outbreak of violence, Christians were forbidden from the marketplace, the forum, the baths, or to appear in any public places. If they did appear in public they were subject to being mocked and robbed by the mob; the homes of Christians were vandalized.. The martyrs of Lyons were accused of "Thyestean banquets and Oedipean intercourse," a reference to cannabalism and incest. How long all of this lasted is not indicated, but the authorities seized the Christians and questioned them in the forum in front of the populace, they were imprisoned until the arrival of the governor. According to Eusebius, while yet a presbyter or elder, St. Irenaeus was sent with a letter, from certain members of the Church of Lyons awaiting martyrdom, to Eleutherus, bishop of Rome; when the governor arrived at Lugdunum, he interrogated them in front of the populace again, mistreating them to such a degree that Vettius Epagathus, a Christian and man of high social standing, requested permission to testify on behalf of the accused.
This request was refused and instead the governor arrested Vettius Epagathus when he confessed to being a Christian. These Christians endured. Two of their pagan servants were seized and, fearing torture, falsely charged the Christians with incest and cannibalism. What followed was the torture of the captive Christians by various means. In the end, all were killed, some of whom had recanted but returned to the faith. There were 48 victims at Lugdunum, half of them were of half Gallo-Roman; the elderly Bishop Pothinus, first Bishop of Lugdunum, was beaten and scourged, died shortly after in prison. A slave, Blandina was subjected to extreme torture, she was exposed, hung on a stake, to be the food of the beasts let loose upon her. As none of the beasts at that time touched her. Martyred at this time were Attalus and Alexander, Saint Ponticus, a fifteen-year-old boy, Sanctus, a deacon from Vienne
Religious vows are the public vows made by the members of religious communities pertaining to their conduct and views. In the Buddhist tradition, in particular within the Mahayana and Vajrayana tradition, many different kinds of religious vows are taken by the lay community as well as by the monastic community, as they progress along the path of their practice. In the monastic tradition of all schools of Buddhism the Vinaya expounds the vows of the ordained Nuns and Monks. In the Christian tradition, such public vows are made by the religious – cenobitic and eremitic – of the Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, Eastern Orthodox Churches, whereby they confirm their public profession of the Evangelical Counsels of poverty and obedience or Benedictine equivalent; the vows are regarded as the individual's free response to a call by God to follow Jesus Christ more under the action of the Holy Spirit in a particular form of religious living. A person who lives a religious life according to vows they have made is called a votary or a votarist.
The religious vow, being a public vow, is binding in Church law. One of its effects is. In the Catholic Church, by joining the consecrated life, one does not become a member of the hierarchy but becomes a member of a state of life, neither clerical nor lay, the consecrated state; the members of the religious orders and those hermits who are in Holy Orders are members of the hierarchy. Since the 6th century and nuns following the Rule of Saint Benedict have been making the so-called Benedictine vow at their public profession of obedience, "conversion of manners". During the 12th and 13th centuries mendicant orders emerged, such as the Franciscans and Dominicans, whose vocation emphasizing mobility and flexibility required them to drop the concept of "stability", they therefore profess chastity and obedience, like the members of many other orders and religious congregations founded subsequently. The public profession of these so-called Evangelical counsels, confirmed by vow or other sacred bond, are now a requirement according to modern Church Law.
The "clerks regular" of the 16th century and after, such as the Jesuits and Redemptorists, followed this same general format, though some added a "fourth vow", indicating some special apostolate or attitude within the order. Professed Jesuits, take a vow of particular obedience to the Pope to undertake any mission laid out in their Formula of the Institute; the Missionaries of Charity, founded by St. Teresa of Calcutta centuries are another example of this, in that her sisters take a fourth vow of special service to "the poorest of the poor". In the Catholic Church, the vows of members of religious orders and congregations are regulated by canons 654-658 of the Code of Canon Law; these are public vows, meaning vows accepted by a superior in the name of the Church, they are of two durations: temporary, after a few years, final vows. Depending on the order, temporary vows may be renewed a number of times before permission to take final vows is given. There are exceptions: the Jesuits' first vows are perpetual, for instance, the Sisters of Charity take only temporary but renewable vows.
Religious vows are of two varieties: simple vows and solemn vows. The highest level of commitment is exemplified by those who have taken their perpetual vows. There once were significant technical differences between them in canon law. Only a limited number of religious congregations may invite their members to solemn vows. In congregations with solemn vows, some members with perpetual vows may have taken them rather than solemnly. A perpetual vow can be superseded by the Pope, when he decides that a man under perpetual vows should become a Bishop of the Church. In these cases, the ties to the order the new Bishop had, are dissolved as if the Bishop had never been a member. However, if the Bishop was a member in good standing, he will be regarded, informally, as "one of us", he will always be welcome in any of the order's houses. There are other forms of consecrated life in the Catholic Church for women, they make a public profession of the evangelical counsels of chastity and obedience, confirmed by a vow or other sacred bond, regulated by canon law but live consecrated lives in the world.
Such are the secular institutes, the hermits and the consecrated virgins These make a public profession of the evangelical counsels by a vow or other sacred bond. Similar are the societies of apostolic life. For Protestant criticism of monastic vows as practiced in the Catholic Church, see Augsburg Confession § Article XXVII: Of Monastic Vows Although the taking of vows was not a part of the earliest monastic foundations, vows did come to be accepted as a normal part of the Tonsure service in the Christian East. One would find a spiritual father and live under his direction. Once one put on the monastic habit, it was understood that one
El Salvador the Republic of El Salvador, is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. It is bordered on the northeast by Honduras, on the northwest by Guatemala, on the south by the Pacific Ocean. El Salvador's capital and largest city is San Salvador; as of 2016, the country had a population of 6.34 million. El Salvador was for centuries inhabited by several Mesoamerican nations the Cuzcatlecs, as well as the Lenca and Maya. In the early 16th century, the Spanish Empire conquered the territory, incorporating it into the Viceroyalty of New Spain ruled from Mexico City; however the Viceroyalty of Mexico had little or no influence in the daily affairs of the Central American isthmus, which would be colonized in 1524. In 1609 the area became the Captaincy General of Guatemala, from which El Salvador was part of until its independence from Spain, which took place in 1821, as part of the First Mexican Empire further seceded, as part of the Federal Republic of Central America, in 1823.
When the Republic dissolved in 1841, El Salvador became a sovereign nation formed a short-lived union with Honduras and Nicaragua called the Greater Republic of Central America, which lasted from 1895 to 1898. From the late 19th to the mid-20th century, El Salvador endured chronic political and economic instability characterized by coups, a succession of authoritarian rulers. Persistent socioeconomic inequality and civil unrest culminated in the devastating Salvadoran Civil War, fought between the military-led government and a coalition of left-wing guerrilla groups; the conflict ended with the Chapultepec Peace Accords. This negotiated settlement established a multiparty constitutional republic, which remains in place to this day. El Salvador's economy has been dominated by agriculture, beginning with the indigo plant, the most important crop during the colonial period, followed thereafter by coffee, which by the early 20th century accounted for 90 percent of export earnings. El Salvador has since reduced its dependence on coffee and embarked on diversifying the economy by opening up trade and financial links and expanding the manufacturing sector.
The colón, the official currency of El Salvador since 1892, was replaced by the U. S. dollar in 2001. As of 2010, El Salvador ranks 12th among Latin American countries in terms of the Human Development Index and fourth in Central America due in part to ongoing rapid industrialisation. However, the country continues to struggle with high rates of poverty and crime. Conquistador Pedro de Alvarado named the new province for Jesus Christ – El Salvador; the full name was "Provincia De Nuestro Señor Jesus Cristo, El Salvador Del Mundo", subsequently abbreviated to "El Salvador". Tomayate is a paleontological site located on the banks of the river of the same name in the municipality of Apopa; the site has produced abundant Salvadoran megafauna fossils belonging to the Pleistocene epoch. The paleontological site was discovered accidentally in 2000, in the following year, an excavation by the Museum of Natural History of El Salvador revealed not only several remnants of Cuvieronius, but several other species of vertebrates.
In the Tomayate site, they have recovered at least 19 species of vertebrates, including giant tortoises, Glyptodon, extinct horses, paleo-llamas and a large number of skeletal remains of proboscis genus Cuvieronius. The Tomayate site stands out from most Central American Pleistocene deposits, being more ancient and much richer, which provides valuable information of the Great American Interchange, in which the Central American isthmus landbridge played the title primordial role. At the same time, it is considered the richest vertebrate paleontological site in Central America and one of the largest accumulations of proboscideans in the Americas. Sophisticated civilization in El Salvador dates to its settlement by the indigenous Lenca people; the Lenca were succeeded by the Olmecs, who also disappeared, leaving their monumental architecture in the form of the pyramids still extant in western El Salvador. The Maya arrived and settled in place of the Olmecs, but their numbers were diminished when the Ilopango supervolcano eruption caused a massive Mayan exodus out of what is now El Salvador.
Centuries they themselves were replaced by the Pipil people, Nahua speaking groups who migrated from Mexico in the centuries before the European conquest and occupied the central and western regions. The Pipil were the last indigenous people to arrive in El Salvador, they called their territory Kuskatan, a Pipil word meaning The Place of Precious Jewels, backformed into Classical Nahuatl Cōzcatlān, Hispanicized as Cuzcatlán. The people of El Salvador today are referred to as Salvadoran, while the term Cuzcatleco is used to identify someone of Salvadoran heritage. In pre-Columbian times, the country was inhabited by various other indigenous peoples, including the Lenca, a Chilanga Lencan-speaking group who settled in the eastern highlands. Cuzcatlan was the larger domain until the Spanish conquest. Since El Salvador resided on the eastern edge of the Maya Civilization, the origins of many of El Salvador's ruins are controversial. However, it is agreed that Mayas occupied the areas around Lago de Guija and Cihuatán.
Other ruins such as Tazumal, Joya de Cerén and San Andrés may have been
A refugee speaking, is a displaced person, forced to cross national boundaries and who cannot return home safely. Such a person may be called an asylum seeker until granted refugee status by the contracting state or the UNHCR if they formally make a claim for asylum; the lead international agency coordinating refugee protection is the United Nations Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The United Nations have a second Office for refugees, the UNRWA, responsible for supporting the large majority of Palestinian refugees. Although similar terms in other languages have described an event marking large scale migration of a specific population from a place of origin, such as the biblical account of Israelites fleeing from Assyrian conquest, in English, the term refugee derives from the root word refuge, from Old French refuge, meaning "hiding place", it refers to "shelter or protection from danger or distress", from Latin fugere, "to flee", refugium, "a taking refuge, place to flee back to".
In Western history, the term was first applied to French Huguenots, after the Edict of Fontainebleau, who again migrated from France after the Edict of Nantes revocation. The word meant "one seeking asylum", until around 1914, when it evolved to mean "one fleeing home", applied in this instance to civilians in Flanders heading west to escape fighting in World War I; the first modern definition of international refugee status came about under the League of Nations in 1921 from the Commission for Refugees. Following World War II, in response to the large numbers of people fleeing Eastern Europe, the UN 1951 Refugee Convention adopted the following definition of "refugee" to apply to any person who: "owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country. In 1967, this legal concept was expanded by the UN Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.
The Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa expanded the 1951 definition, which the Organization of African Unity adopted in 1969:"Every person who, owing to external aggression, foreign domination or events disturbing public order in either part or the whole of his country of origin or nationality, is compelled to leave his place of habitual residence in order to seek refuge in another place outside his country of origin or nationality." The 1984 regional, non-binding Latin-American Cartagena Declaration on Refugees includes: "persons who have fled their country because their lives, safety or freedom have been threatened by generalized violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violation of human rights or other circumstances which have disturbed public order." As of 2011, the UNHCR itself, in addition to the 1951 definition, recognizes persons as refugees: "who are outside their country of nationality or habitual residence and unable to return there owing to serious and indiscriminate threats to life, physical integrity or freedom resulting from generalized violence or events disturbing public order."
European Union's minimum standards definition of refugee, underlined by Art. 2 of Directive No. 2004/83/EC reproduces the narrow definition of refugee offered by the UN 1951 Convention. The same form of protection is foreseen for displaced people who, without being refugees, are exposed, if returned to their countries of origin, to death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatments; the idea that a person who sought sanctuary in a holy place could not be harmed without inviting divine retribution was familiar to the ancient Greeks and ancient Egyptians. However, the right to seek asylum in a church or other holy place was first codified in law by King Æthelberht of Kent in about AD 600. Similar laws were implemented throughout Europe in the Middle Ages; the related concept of political exile has a long history: Ovid was sent to Tomis. By the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, nations recognized each other's sovereignty. However, it was not until the advent of romantic nationalism in late 18th-century Europe that nationalism gained sufficient prevalence for the phrase country of nationality to become meaningful, for border crossing to require that people provide identification.
The term "refugee" sometime applies to people who might fit the definition outlined by the 1951 Convention, were it applied retroactively. There are many candidates. For example, after the Edict of Fontainebleau in 1685 outlawed Protestantism in France, hundreds of thousands of Huguenots fled to England, the Netherlands, South Africa and Prussia; the repeated waves of pogroms that swept Eastern Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries prompted mass Jewish emigration. Beginning in the 19th century, Muslim people emigrated to Turkey from Europe; the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913 caused 800,000 people to leave their homes. Various groups of people were designated refugees beginning in World War I; the fir
The Diocletianic or Great Persecution was the last and most severe persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. In 303, the Emperors Diocletian, Maximian and Constantius issued a series of edicts rescinding Christians' legal rights and demanding that they comply with traditional religious practices. Edicts targeted the clergy and demanded universal sacrifice, ordering all inhabitants to sacrifice to the gods; the persecution varied in intensity across the empire—weakest in Gaul and Britain, where only the first edict was applied, strongest in the Eastern provinces. Persecutory laws were nullified by different emperors at different times, but Constantine and Licinius's Edict of Milan has traditionally marked the end of the persecution. Christians had always been subject to local discrimination in the empire, but early emperors were reluctant to issue general laws against the sect, it was under the reigns of Decius and Valerian, that such laws were passed. Under this legislation, Christians were compelled to sacrifice to Roman gods or face imprisonment and execution.
After Gallienus's accession in 260, these laws went into abeyance. Diocletian's assumption of power in 284 did not mark an immediate reversal of imperial inattention to Christianity, but it did herald a gradual shift in official attitudes toward religious minorities. In the first fifteen years of his rule, Diocletian purged the army of Christians, condemned Manicheans to death, surrounded himself with public opponents of Christianity. Diocletian's preference for activist government, combined with his self-image as a restorer of past Roman glory, foreboded the most pervasive persecution in Roman history. In the winter of 302, Galerius urged Diocletian to begin a general persecution of the Christians. Diocletian was wary, asked the oracle of Apollo for guidance; the oracle's reply was read as an endorsement of Galerius's position, a general persecution was called on February 24, 303. Persecutory policies varied in intensity across the empire. Whereas Galerius and Diocletian were avid persecutors, Constantius was unenthusiastic.
Persecutory edicts, including the calls for universal sacrifice, were not applied in his domain. His son, Constantine, on taking the imperial office in 306, restored Christians to full legal equality and returned property, confiscated during the persecution. In Italy in 306, the usurper Maxentius ousted Maximian's successor Severus, promising full religious toleration. Galerius ended the persecution in the East in 311, but it was resumed in Egypt and Asia Minor by his successor, Maximinus. Constantine and Licinius, Severus's successor, signed the Edict of Milan in 313, which offered a more comprehensive acceptance of Christianity than Galerius's edict had provided. Licinius ousted Maximinus in 313; the persecution failed to check the rise of the Church. By 324, Constantine was sole ruler of the empire, Christianity had become his favored religion. Although the persecution resulted in death, imprisonment, or dislocation for many Christians, the majority of the empire's Christians avoided punishment.
The persecution did, cause many churches to split between those who had complied with imperial authority, those who had remained "pure". Certain schisms, like those of the Donatists in North Africa and the Meletians in Egypt, persisted long after the persecutions; the Donatists would not be reconciled to the Church until after 411. Some historians consider that, in the centuries that followed the persecutory era, Christians created a "cult of the martyrs", exaggerated its barbarity; such Christian accounts were criticized during the Enlightenment and afterwards, most notably by Edward Gibbon. Modern historians, such as G. E. M. de Ste. Croix, have attempted to determine whether Christian sources exaggerated the scope of the Diocletianic persecution. From its first appearance to its legalization under Constantine, Christianity was an illegal religion in the eyes of the Roman state. For the first two centuries of its existence and its practitioners were unpopular with the people at large. Christians were always suspect, members of a "secret society" whose members communicated with a private code and who shied away from the public sphere.
It was popular hostility—the anger of the crowd—which drove the earliest persecutions, not official action. In Lyon in 177, it was only the intervention of civil authorities that stopped a pagan mob from dragging Christians from their houses and beating them to death; the governor of Bithynia–Pontus, was sent long lists of denunciations by anonymous citizens, which Emperor Trajan advised him to ignore. To the followers of the traditional cults, Christians were odd creatures: not quite Roman, but not quite barbarian either, their practices were threatening to traditional mores. Christians rejected public festivals, refused to take part in the imperial cult, avoided public office, publicly criticized ancient traditions. Conversions tore families apart: Justin Martyr tells of a pagan husband who denounced his Christian wife, Tertullian tells of children disinherited for becoming Christians. Traditional Roman religion was inextricably interwoven into the fabric of Roman society and state, but Christians refused to observe its practices.
In the words of Tacitus, Christians showed "hatred of the human race". Among the more credulous, Christians were thought to use black magic in pursuit of revolutionary aims, to practice incest and cannibalism. Nonetheless, for the first two centuries of the Christian era, no emperor issued general laws against the faith or its Church; these persecutions were carried o