'So many murders': Pope mourns priests killed in Mexico

'So many murders': Pope mourns priests killed in Mexico

Pope Francis expressed sadness Wednesday over the shooting deaths of two Jesuit priests in Mexico's remote Chihuahua state
Pope Francis expressed sadness Wednesday over the shooting deaths of two Jesuit priests in Mexico's remote Chihuahua state. Photo: Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP
Source: AFP

PAY ATTENTION: Click “See First” under the “Following” tab to see YEN.com.gh News on your News Feed!

Pope Francis on Wednesday lamented the spiral of violence engulfing Mexico, after two Jesuit priests and a man seeking sanctuary were gunned down inside a church.

The pope, himself a Jesuit, expressed sadness and dismay over the killings of men he called his "brothers" in the mountains of the northern state of Chihuahua.

"So many murders in Mexico. I am close, in affection and prayer, to the Catholic community affected by this tragedy," the pontiff said at the end of his weekly audience at the Vatican.

Priests Javier Campos, 79, and Joaquin Mora, 81, were shot dead in the town of Cerocahui on Monday "while trying to defend a man who was seeking refuge," according to the order also known as the Society of Jesus.

The pursued man, who worked as a tour guide, was also killed and his body taken away with those of the two priests.

Read also

Bolsonaro ex-minister arrested for 'influence peddling'

About 30 priests have been killed in Mexico in the past decade, according to the Centro Catolico Multimedial, a Catholic organization.

PAY ATTENTION: check out news exactly for YOU ➡️ find "Recommended for you" block and enjoy!

More than 340,000 people have been killed in a wave of bloodshed in Mexico since the government deployed the army to fight drug cartels in 2006.

Crime-ridden region

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Wednesday that the alleged murderer had been identified and that a manhunt was under way.

The suspect, who was identified by another priest present in the church, was already wanted for the murder of a US tourist in 2018, he told reporters.

"That area of the mountains has for some time been infiltrated, penetrated, dominated by crime," Lopez Obrador said.

The three bodies were placed in the back of a pickup truck by armed men, covered with plastic and taken away, according to Father Luis Gerardo Moro Madrid, head of the Jesuits in Mexico.

Read also

Ecuador refuses to end state of emergency as 18 police 'missing' after attack

"We demand justice and the recovery of the bodies," the order said.

Experts say Chihuahua is an important transit route for illegal drugs bound for the United States and violently contested between rival trafficking gangs.

Father Jorge Atilano Gonzalez, also a Jesuit, told a local television station the priests killed on Monday had attempted to intervene because they knew the assailant, who was from the area.

"He wanted to confess" after the shooting, he said, citing the testimony of the third priest present.

"What we believe is that he was in a state of alcoholism or addiction because of the reaction he had," he added.

'Important social work'

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico condemned the killings, saying the priests had carried out "important social and pastoral work" among the Raramuri, or Tarahumara, Indigenous people.

"The murder of these two well-known priests reminds us of the situation of extreme violence and vulnerability faced by the communities of the Sierra Tarahumara in Chihuahua," said UN human rights representative Guillermo Fernandez-Maldonado.

Read also

Malians march for state protection after massacre

The Mexican Episcopal Conference called for a rapid investigation as well as increased security for the country's clergy.

It is common for religious leaders in Mexico to act as defenders of their communities and as mediators with criminal gangs operating there.

In states such as Michoacan and Guerrero, some have even entered into dialogue with drug traffickers in a bid to keep the peace in largely poor regions with little government presence.

PAY ATTENTION: check out news exactly for YOU ➡️ find "Recommended for you" block and enjoy!

Source: AFP

AFP avatar

AFP AFP text, photo, graphic, audio or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium. AFP news material may not be stored in whole or in part in a computer or otherwise except for personal and non-commercial use. AFP will not be held liable for any delays, inaccuracies, errors or omissions in any AFP news material or in transmission or delivery of all or any part thereof or for any damages whatsoever. As a newswire service, AFP does not obtain releases from subjects, individuals, groups or entities contained in its photographs, videos, graphics or quoted in its texts. Further, no clearance is obtained from the owners of any trademarks or copyrighted materials whose marks and materials are included in AFP material. Therefore you will be solely responsible for obtaining any and all necessary releases from whatever individuals and/or entities necessary for any uses of AFP material.