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UPDATE: Pope condemns murder of Mexican priests; mourners pack church for funeral

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 09/22/16

From Vatican Radio:

Pope Francis has expressed his sadness for the killing of two Mexican priests and has sent a telegram of condolences assuring their diocese and families of his prayers. 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 telegram, which was sent by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin on behalf of the Holy Father, expressed the Pope’s profound sadness for the killing of the priests who were respectively the Parish priest and the Vicar of the Church of Our Lady of Fatima in Poza Rica. The Pope strongly condemned the brutal attacks on the lives and on the dignity of the people involved and urged the clergy and all members of the diocese to continue to pursue their mission despite the difficulties. He said  he is praying for the eternal rest of the priests, for their families and for the entire parish community. The telegram was addressed to Bishop Trinidad Zapata of Papantla. Poza Rica and its surrounding territory has been the scene of drug-related gang violence and trafficking for many years. But it’s unclear why the Catholic priests were targeted. Priests have been killed before in Mexico, but many of the killings have occurred in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero. The two murders bring the total number of Catholic priests killed in Mexico since 2012 to 14.

Meantime, mourners gatheredto grieve:

Mourners packed a church Wednesday for a funeral Mass in memory of a Roman Catholic 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.

Read on. 

Image: Diocese of Papantla / AP via Vatican Radio

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