Posted by on April 24, 2018 6:21 pm
Categories: Column 3


The murders of two more priests in Mexico in the last week raise questions over why church leaders in this devoutly Catholic country are increasingly being abducted, tortured and killed.

Mexico is now considered to be the most dangerous country to be a priest, according to the Catholic news agency Crux Now.

The Rev. Juan Miguel Contreras Garcia became the 23rd church leader killed in a string of violent attacks since 2012 and the fourth priest murdered in Mexico this year. He was shot down in his parish on Friday night as he listened to confession in the western state of Jalisco.

Just two days prior, the Rev. Rubén Alcántara Díaz was stabbed to death at his church on the outskirts of Mexico City. He was killed right before Mass in his Cuautitlán Izcalli church. The killers of both priests immediately fled the scene.

A Mexican priest who was abducted and tortured was found alive near the Gulf of Mexico. USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s a scenario that’s grown too familiar in Mexico. Stories of dead priests dumped along the highway, their bodies filled with bullets or tied up before they’re stabbed, have become recurring headlines.

Mexico’s population is 81% Catholic, the second-largest in Central America after Colombia. But in the last six years, priests have been victims of mysterious deaths, intentionally sought out and often brutally abused.

The Rev. Sergio Omar Sotelo Aguilar, director of the Catholic Multimedia Center in Mexico, said last year that there was a “new persecution against the church in Mexico.”

“Even though no wars are being fought on our soil, our country is the nation with the highest number of murders of priests,” he said.

He added that “corruption and inefficiency of some authorities of the country have allowed the unstoppable advance of violence and crime in Mexico.” The Catholic Multimedia Center is launching public investigations into the attacks on priests.

The abductions and murders are more common in Mexican states with an already high crime rate. These  violent statistics are comparable to war-torn countries such as Syria and Yemen. Mexico recorded its most dangerous year yet in 2017 with over 29,000 homicides reported. The actual figure could be higher.

Both religious and political leaders have few answers for why priests are specific targets. Theories include the murders are a retaliation over priests abandoning a long-held tradition of withholding criticism of the government. Others say the church is entangled in political corruption, according to Christian Today.

But some civilians see the murder of priests as a result of the church’s call to end drug-related violence in a country with an impenetrable system of drug cartels. This means that drug lords kill anyone who dares to speak against injustice and crime, even if it’s a priest.

Omar Sotelo also said the attacks on priests are most likely because of organized crime.

“According to our investigations we will be able to determine that in 80% of the cases organized crime is present, which in the case of extortion, kidnappings and murders, (the attackers) want to impose power,” he said.

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Alfonso Miranda, secretary-general of the Mexican Bishops Conference, condemned the murder of Garcia, calling on the killers “not only to lay down their arms, but also to reject hatred and resentment.”

Alfonso Miranda


Pedimos a aquellos que menosprecian y arrebatan la vida por cualquier causa, a dejarse mirar por el rostro bondadoso de Dios, para deponer no solo las armas, sino el odio, el rencor, la venganza y todo sentimiento destructivo 

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