MEXICO – Three priests abducted and killed this month
Less than a week after two Catholic priests abducted in Mexico were found murdered, the body of a third priest, Fr. José Alfredo López Guillén, was discovered. His car has also been found overturned on a road nearby. According to a message written on the archdiocese’s Facebook page, the priest had been killed several days before his lifeless body was found near the town of near Puruandiro.
Fr. López Guillén, pastor of Janamuato in Mexico’s central state of Michoacan, was taken from the rectory of his parish by unknown persons on 19 Sep. His car was also stolen. His abduction occurred on the same day that authorities found the dead bodies of previously-kidnapped Fathers Alejo Nabor Jiménez Juárez and José Alfredo Juárez de la Cruz, in the Diocese of Papantla, in Veracruz state.
With 15 priests killed in the last four years “it has become clear that Mexico is the country where ministers of the Catholic Church are most at risk” said Fr Hugo Valdemar, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Mexico. “Which is even surprising because there is still more risk in Mexico than, for example, in Syria or in those countries where Christians are persecuted by the Islamic State” he added.
Referring to the last three murders, Fr. Valdemar said though Veracruz and Michoacán have faced years of violence from drug cartels “the states where they occurred, in a highly irresponsible way, have wanted to deny this was carried out by organized crime.” He said that the state governments “don’t want to accept the state of affairs with organized crime, which has become uncontrollable in these areas.” Priests have often been targeted since the Catholic Church is one of the most vocal in speaking out against cartel crimes and activities.
Fr Valdemar stated that the kidnapping and murder of the three priests “demonstrates the gravity of the situation” in Mexico.
“If there is no respect for a priest, who are generally highly respected in Mexico, then you can imagine the rest of the population. If they kill, extort, and rob a priest, imagine what it’s like for the rest of the population, which is even more vulnerable, more unprotected than are we priests.”
Cardinal Alberto Suárez Inda of Morelia, capital of Michoacan and one of the most troubled cities in Mexico, spoke about the latest killing: “We ask God for peace, for respect for life, for the conversion of those who dedicate themselves to doing evil.” “Our community suffers the death, the anguish of any one of our faithful. In this case, it’s a good man, dedicated to doing good and who is peaceful. This barbarity is in no way justifiable, I ask for your prayers.”
Pope Francis has often condemned drug related crime and violence in Mexico. In his Angelus address last Sunday, he said “I assure you of my prayers for the dear Mexican people, so that the violence which has in these days also affected some priests, ceases.”
Francis also expressed his solidarity with the country’s bishops in supporting the efforts of the Church “in favor of the family and of life, which in this time require special pastoral and cultural attention throughout the world.”