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Another priest slain in Mexico as Pope Francis appeals for end to violence

Pope Francis leads a Mass for the jubilee of catechists at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Sept. 25, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-MEXICO-PRIESTS, originally transmitted on September 26, 2016.

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Catholic Church in Mexico has been shaken by the recent murder of several priests, with the body of the latest victim found just hours after Pope Francis appealed for an end to the country’s drug-related violence.

On Sunday (Sept. 25), in remarks before the noontime Angelus prayer he recites with the faithful, the pope told pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square that he backed Mexico’s bishops in their efforts to protect the family as they fight against a government proposal to legalize same-sex marriage.

Francis then offered his prayers for priests who had recently been murdered in Mexico.

“I want to assure the dear Mexican people of my prayers, so that the violence, which has even struck several priests, might cease,” he said.

In the latest case, Vatican Radio reported Monday that the Archdiocese of Morelia had announced that the body of the Rev. Jose Lopez Guillen was found near the town of Puruandiro, in the western state of Michoacan.

Lopez had been robbed and abducted from his parish residence in Janamuato and his car was found overturned nearby.

Lopez was kidnapped on Sept. 19, the same day authorities in Mexico’s Gulf Coast state of Veracruz found the bodies of two priests who had been abducted from their parish residence. They had been shot.

The Catholic Multimedia Center said that 15 priests have been murdered in Mexico in less than four years, Vatican Radio said. But more than twice that number are believed to have been killed in Mexico in the past decade.

Although the latest killings took place in different regions of Mexico, both areas are dominated by violent drug cartels that have terrorized communities.

Mexico’s ongoing decadelong drug war has claimed more than 150,000 lives, with thousands of people missing.

(Josephine McKenna reports on the Vatican for RNS)

About the author

Josephine McKenna

Josephine McKenna has more than 30 years' experience in print, broadcast and interactive media. Based in Rome since 2007, she covered the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and election of Pope Francis and canonizations of their predecessors. Now she covers all things Vatican for RNS.


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  • The Pope appeals for an end to violence, but sends words of encouragement to the right wing so-called Christians who claim that my marriage attacks theirs and my family undermines theirs.

    this pope is quite adept at speaking out of both sides of his mouth and out his backside all at the same time.

  • I worked alongside some Jesuit priests from Chicago many years ago in Latin America, who refused to wear their priestly garb that elevated them above the peasants they served. They worked the soil growing food, alongside the peasants. Anyone coming to kill a priest would have had difficulty finding one, as they blended in with the scenery in the poorer sectors.

    The colonial church in Latin America still hues to the traditional postures of colorfully dressed clergy walking among the poor so they are easily spotted–and killed.

  • It’s always terrible when noncombatants are killed.

    The order of his remarks is telling regarding the pope’s priorities. First – marriage for all. Second – war violence and the deaths of innocents. That’s very screwed up.

  • The deaths of the priests are merely indicative of the greater problems within Mexico. It is a resource rich nation whose wealth is concentrated in the hands of a very few people proportionately speaking. To even a greater degree than in the U.S. A more broadly based approach to economic policy within the context of both the domestic and foreign markets would alleviate at least some of the problems which plague Mexico. But as often seems, the more wealth one has the less inclined one is to put it to use for the greater good, even when all that is being asked is that it be soundly invested for the benefit of a more efficient and balanced economic whole. It is not a fallacy to argue that a rising tide raises all boats. But business and governmental corruption, it seems, has been impossible to root out. On another note, if the sensually addicted customers of the drug trade in the U.S. and other nations would discover a little discipline and reject their dependency on the false promises and pleasures of drug use, the capital that drives the murderous practices of the drug cartels would wither away. Though such worthless people would find other ways to terrorize the citizens. In some respects I fault the Catholic Church, I’ve often wondered if a scientific study would demonstrate that the predominantly Protestant nations are more efficient and productive economically speaking than Catholic ones. The roll-up the sleeves Protestant “work ethic,” model seems more practical than the historic Roman Catholic position wherein the poor were advised to bear their lot patiently in hopes of the eternal blessings of heaven. I do not discountenance that advice, but I would add in the meantime, as Clarence Day Sr. declared in “Life with Father,” ‘Whatsoever thou puts thy hand to do, do thy doggonedest.’