Reports have been claiming that another two priests have been murdered in the past week. The recent murders have raised questions over why church leaders are increasingly being abducted, tortured, and killed.
The two priests were killed in Mexico, which is now considered to be the most dangerous country in the world to be a Roman Catholic priest, according to USA Today.
The Rev. Juan Miguel Conteras Garcia became the 23rd church leader to be killed in a string of violent attacks since 2012. This year alone Fr. Garcia has become the fourth priest to be murdered. According to reports, he was martyred in his parish on Friday night while hearing confessions.
Only two days earlier, the Rev. Ruben Alcantara Diaz was stabbed to death at his parish, located on the outskirts of Mexico City. He was killed immediately before celebrating Mass. In both instances, the priests immediately died at the scene and the killers, unwilling to show their identity, quickly fled.
Throughout Mexico, it appears that this has become an unfortunately familiar scenario. Stories of dead priests dumped along the highway, with their bodies filled with bullets and stab wounds, has become a recurring theme in headlines. This is particularly bewildering considering that Mexico has a population that is 81% Catholic, which is the second-highest in Central America after Colombia.
Many have claimed that despite the high number of self-described Catholics in Mexico, there appears to be a new persecution against the Church.
“Even though no wars are being fought on our soil, our country is the nation with the highest number of murders of priests,” said one priest, according to USA Today.
One reason, according to Christianity Today, is that the Catholic clergy on victims of a war against drugs that is not universally accepted. Other reasons include engagement with politics and the willingness of many priests to criticize not only cartels but also the government.
There has long been a history of anticlericalism in Mexico, as well as deep conflicts between the government and the Church, sometimes resulting in outright persecution of Catholics in Mexico.
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