Three Mexican priests murdered within days; motives unknown

IMAGE: CNS photo/Diario Marcha, Handout via EPA

By David Agren

CITY (CNS) — A priest abducted from his parish residence in the Mexican state
of Michoacan has been found dead, the Archdiocese of Morelia confirmed Sept. 25.
He was the third priest murdered in Mexico within days.

prosecutors say Father Jose Alfredo Lopez Guillen, pastor in the community of
Janamuato, 240 miles west of Mexico City, died of gunshot wounds shortly after
being abducted Sept. 19. His body was found wrapped in a blanket alongside a

members, meanwhile, discovered personal items strewn across the floor of his
home, and one of two vehicles stolen from his parish was found flipped over
along a highway, Mexican media reported.

motive for the crime is still uncertain, though family say they received no
ransom calls as might be expected in a kidnapping case.

Gov. Silvano Aureoles Conejo erroneously told Radio Formula that Father Lopez
was last seen on video in a local hotel with a teenage boy. The boy’s family subsequently
said the governor confused the priest with the boy’s father.

Alberto Suarez Inda of Morelia also called the information false.

pray for his soul,” the Archdiocese of Morelia wrote on its Twitter account,
confirming the death of Father Lopez.

abduction and murder in Michoacan continued a disturbing trend of attacks
against priests across Mexico, though Catholic leaders are at a loss to explain
the motives, which have included robbery, organized crime activity and possible
conflicts with drug cartel leaders. The Catholic Multimedia Center has
documented the murders of 15 Mexican priests in less than four years.

Sept. 19, two priests were kidnapped and killed in the Mexican state of
Veracruz, though the stated motive of the crime has caused controversy.

state attorney general Luis Angel Bravo Contreras told reporters Sept. 20 that
the “victims and the victimizers knew each other” and added that the
attack was “not a kidnapping.”

were together, having a few drinks, the gathering broke down due to alcohol and
turned violent,” he said.

officials in Veracruz rejected the explanation, calling it “an easy out”
and saying it ignored the reality of a state notorious for crime and

are hoping for more professional and careful inquiry, because this declaration
the prosecutor is giving generates more doubts than responses to the issue of
the murder of these two priests,” said Father Jose Manuel Suazo Reyes,
spokesman for the Archdiocese of Xalapa. “It surprises us how quickly they’ve
concluded an investigation that requires more time and care.”

Alejo Nabor Jimenez Juarez and Father Jose Alfredo Juarez de la Cruz were
dragged at gunpoint out of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Poza Rica, a Gulf Coast
oil city consumed by crime in recent years, the Diocese of Papantla confirmed
in a statement.

reported the men were found Sept. 19, one day after their abduction, along the
side of a highway with their hands and feet bound. They were beaten and had
gunshot wounds, according to media reports.

driver employed by the parish also was abducted, Mexican media reported, but
was found unharmed.

has struck Veracruz clergy previously. In 2013, two priests in the Diocese of
Tuxpan were murdered in their parish.

Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City encouraged prayers for the situation of
so many clergy coming under attack.

those that injure and defame the church or its pastors, may the Lord grant
repentance for their actions and with our prayers provide a path to social
reconciliation,” he said Sept. 25 during Mass.

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