Murdered priests mourned in Mexico’s troubled Veracruz state — The Catholic Media Center says 28 priests have been killed in Mexico since 2006

 Associated Press SEPTEMBER 21, 2016 — 2:00PM
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 A person prays in Our Lady of Fatima Church in Poza Rica, Veracruz state, Mexico, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016. Two of the church’s priests were found dead on Monday, and were last seen Sunday. Their bullet-ridden bodies were found on a roadside. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)



POZA RICA, Mexico — Mourners packed a church Wednesday for a Roman Catholic Mass in memory of a priest who was murdered along with another cleric in the troubled Gulf coast state of Veracruz.

Parishioners filled all the standing room inside the church in the community of Paso Blanco while others outside listened through the windows, huddling under the eaves as a steady rain fell.

A large banner on the front of the church bore a photo of the young Rev. Jose Alfredo Suarez de la Cruz, who was ordained only a few years ago and arrived at his post in the city of Poza Rica just a month before he was murdered.

“You are a priest for always,” the banner read.

Suarez and Rev. Alejo Nabor Jimenez were last seen Sunday in Poza Rica, and their bullet-ridden bodies were discovered the following day on a roadside miles away. One had been shot nine times.

State prosecutors say they believe the clerics knew their attackers and had been drinking with them before the get-together “turned violent.”

But some parishioners are skeptical of that theory and say organized crime has plagued Poza Rica with killings and disappearances.

“Unfortunately, Poza Rica is a very severe place in (terms of) security,” a priest said during Wednesday’s service, calling on authorities to ensure justice in the killings.

Pope Francis sent a letter of condolences calling the slain clerics “victims of inexcusable violence.” The letter was signed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, and posted online by the Mexican Conference of Bishops.

The Catholic Media Center says 28 priests have been killed in Mexico since 2006, not counting this week’s slayings. It says Veracruz, Guerrero and Mexico state are the most dangerous in the country.

The U.S. State Department wrote in its 2015 International Religious Freedom report that priests in Mexico are “victims of extortion attempts, death threats, and intimidation by organized criminal groups.”

Women light candles in Our Lady of Fatima Church in Poza Rica, Veracruz state, Mexico, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016. Two of the church's priests were found dead on Monday, and were last seen Sunday. The bullet-ridden bodies of the priests were found on a roadside. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Women light candles in Our Lady of Fatima Church in Poza Rica, Veracruz state, Mexico, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016. Two of the church’s priests were found dead on Monday, and were last seen Sunday. The bullet-ridden bodies of the priests were found on a roadside. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)  (The Associated Press)

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Locals say gov’t claims over slain priests a “cover-up”
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Corpses of Catholic priests who were abducted from the church of Our Lady of Fatima in Poza Rica were found in the road Papantla-Poza Rica in Papantla, Veracruz state, Mexico, Sept. 19, 2016.

GETTY

Last Updated Sep 21, 2016 5:01 AM EDT

MEXICO CITY — Investigators said Tuesday that two priests who were killed in Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Veracruz knew their attackers and had been drinking with them, a view that was quickly rejected by some parishioners.

State prosecutor Luis Angel Bravo said the get-together with the attackers “broke down and turned violent,” and that “after the violence came the robbery” of church collection money and some vehicles.

The bullet-ridden bodies of the priests were found on a roadside Monday. Bravo did not say how many attackers there were, but his office said earlier that one suspect had been identified.

His office said in a statement late Monday that prosecutors hoped to file a case against the identified suspect soon. It didn’t say whether the suspect was in custody.

Bravo said that neither drug cartels nor kidnapping was involved in the crime. One priest had been shot nine times and both bodies were found miles from where they were last seen in the Veracruz city of Poza Rica on Sunday, he said.

mexico-priests-shot-608096874.jpg

Mexican soldiers arrive at the Nuestra Senora de Fatima church after the Catholic priests Alejo Nabor Jimenez Juarez and Jose Alfredo Juarez de la Cruz were kidnapped by gunmen in Poza Rica, Veracruz state, Mexico, Sept. 19, 2016.

GETTY

Parishioners leaving a Mass for the priests at the Our Lady of Fatima Church in Poza Rica expressed skepticism. They said organized crime has plagued Poza Rica with killings and disappearances.

Four women gathered under the church’s unfinished bell tower declined to give their names for safety reasons, but linked the killings to a crime wave that they said has gripped the city for some time.

They said one of the priests, the Rev. Alejo Nabor Jimenez, had been at the church six or seven years. He initially came to help the parish’s priest and stayed on after that priest died, they said.

The other victim, the Rev. Alfredo Suarez de la Cruz, had been at the church only about a month, the women said.

“It’s a shock for everyone,” said one woman. But she dismissed the prosecutor’s version of a killing among friends as “a lie” and “cover-up.”

Another of the women said no one had heard of the priests receiving any threats.

Jorge Juarez Bautista, who has worked at the church for 25 years, said there had been robberies before but never violence.

The two priests were found dead Monday, and were last seen Sunday. They celebrated a final Mass at the church at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Catholic Media Center says 28 priests have been killed in Mexico since 2006, not counting this week’s slayings. It says Veracruz, Guerrero and Mexico states are the most dangerous.

The U.S. State Department wrote in its 2015 International Religious Freedom report that priests in Mexico are “victims of extortion attempts, death threats, and intimidation by organized criminal groups.”


Corpses of Catholic priests who were abducted from the church of Our Lady of Fatima in Poza Rica were found in the road Papantla-Poza Rica in Papantla, Veracruz state, Mexico, Sept. 19, 2016.

GETTY

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2 Responses to “Murdered priests mourned in Mexico’s troubled Veracruz state — The Catholic Media Center says 28 priests have been killed in Mexico since 2006”

  1. l8in Says:

    Reblogged this on L8in.

  2. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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