GUADALAJARA, Mexico — The reported murder of a priest in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Friday marks the second killing of a priest in less than a week in the country.
Father Juan Miguel Contreras Garcia, 33, was shot to death the afternoon of April 20 inside St. Pio of Pietrelcina Church, in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, authorities reported.
The murder of Father Contreras Garcia makes the second murder of a priest in Mexico in less than a week, following the killing of Father Rubén Alcántara Díaz, the vicar general of the Diocese of Cuautitlán Izcalli, April 18.
According to the Catholic Multimedia Center, this makes a total of 23 priests murdered in the country in the last six years.
The Attorney General’s Office of Jalisco State reported that Father Contreras Garcia was believed to have been attacked by two men from the Hacienda Santa Fe neighborhood in the town of Tlajomulco, in the Guadalajara metropolitan area.
The attorney general’s office indicated the killers “entered the sacristy of the parish and straightaway attacked the victim, fleeing afterwards in a compact vehicle.”
“The victim was found in the church with several gunshot wounds,” the office said.
In a message released by the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega, his auxiliary bishops, the clergy and the faithful expressed “our deepest grief.”
The Archdiocese of Guadalajara urged “the state and municipal authorities to investigate and determine the facts of this deplorable incident.”
In addition, they called on “those that commit these atrocities against people’s lives to reconsider the damage they do to society and the climate of anguish they bring upon the citizens, so that their minds and hearts be moved to repent of their actions.”
“We unite in prayer so that this climate of violence that afflicts our state of Jalisco would come to an end.”
The bishops of Mexico also released a statement voicing “sadness and grief over the murder of another priest in just a few days.”
“We make an urgent call to build a culture of peace and reconciliation. These deplorable incidents call all of us to a much deeper and sincere conversion. It is time to look honestly at our culture and society, to ask ourselves why we have lost respect for life and the sacred.”
“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 exhorted “those who despise and take away life for any cause, to let the kindly face of God look upon you to not only lay down your weapons, but also hatred, resentment, vengeance and every destructive sentiment.”
“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.”
The Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice warned that, within Mexico, “the increase in violence is undeniable.”
On the council’s most recent annual list of the 50 most violent cities in the world, 12 are in Mexico.
This article was originally published by CNA’s sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.