In the last six years, 23 priests have been killed. The Catholic bishops said “how did we lose respect for life and for the faith?”
On the evening of the 20th April, Fr. Juan Miguel Contreras García, aged 33 and recently ordained a priest, was shot dead at the end the Holy Mass he had just celebrated in the parish of S. Pio da Pietrelcina in Tlajomulco, Jalisco state, having taken the place of another priest who recently received death threats. According to eyewitnesses, the commando broke into the church, headed towards the sacristy and shot the priest dead.
Only one week before, Fr. Rubén Alcántara Díaz, 50, judicial vicar of the diocese of Izcalli, in the municipality of Cuautitlán (Mexico), was murdered on the 18th April. He was murdered just before the 7pm Mass which he held to celebrate in the church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, in the district of Cumbria.
“Before these latest deplorable events, it is time to look honestly at our culture and our society and to ask ourselves, how did we lose respect for life and for the faith”. With these words Cardinal José Francisco Robles Ortega, archbishop of Guadalajara and President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Mexico (CEM), together with Bishop Alfonso G. Miranda Guardiola, auxiliary of Monterrey and CEM Secretary, express “deep pain, sadness and consternation” regarding the murders of these priests.
The bishops said in their statement “We ask the Catholic faithful to accompany their priests with prayer, especially in the pastoral service of the communities that have been entrusted to them”.
The bishops also said “those who despise and take away life for any cause, to let the kindly face up God look upon you to not only lay down your weapons but also hatred, resentment, vengeance and every destructive sentiment”.
Finally, the bishops said “To our competent authorities we strongly request, once again, to exhaustively investigate and determine the facts in order to act in conformity with justice and not allow this crime or the other crimes in our nation to go unpunished”.
According to the Catholic Multimedia Center, this makes a total of 23 priests murdered in the country in the last six years.