Pope Francis: Prayers for Mexico amid pro-family, pro-life battle

At Sunday Angelus, pope also prays for end to violence after two Catholic priests are murdered

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Sunday prayed for an end to violence in Mexico following the murder of two Catholic priests, and expressed his support for the ongoing pro-family and pro-life efforts of the Mexican bishops.

Addressing faithful and pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square before the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis said: “I join willingly the Bishops of Mexico in supporting the Church and civil society’s efforts on behalf of the family and of life, which at this time require special pastoral and cultural attention worldwide.”

Pope Francis went on to say, “I assure you of my prayers for the beloved Mexican people, that the violence which has also hit several priests in recent days may cease.”

Father Alejo Nabor Jimenez Juarez and Father José Alfredo Suarez de la Cruz were abducted from their Church in the State of Veracruz’s northern city of Poza Rica on Sunday. Their bodies, with bullet wounds, were found the following day.

The priest’s abductions and murders took place as Church leaders are calling increased protection for clergy, as the Church in Mexico advocates in defense of traditional marriage, while President the Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration pushes for a change in the law to allow legal recognition of same-sex unions as marriages.

Mourners in Mexico packed a church last Wednesday, September 21, for a funeral Mass for the two priests. Parishioners filled the standing room inside while others listened through windows outside.

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

Fourteen priests have been killed since Peña Nieto took office in 2012, along with scores of thousands of kidnappings and homicides since that same year, most related to the ongoing violence between rival drug cartels in the country.

Pope Francis journeyed to Mexico earlier this year, February 12-18, 2016, for his first apostolic visit to the country.