Family members and parishioners gathered at Our Lady of Asuncion Church in Paso Blanco, Veracruz state, Mexico for the funeral Mass of murdered priest Father Jose Alfredo Suarez de la Cruz. He was one of two priests whom authorities found bound and riddled with bullets on a roadside in Veracruz State.
Thousands of innocent Mexicans have been killed within the last five years, including at least 23 priests. The root of the problem has been organised crime including drug cartels and gangs which deal in stolen fuel. Catholic priests have been targeted, as the Church has been an outspoken critic of the criminals and corrupt officials who support them. Father Sergio Omar of the Catholic Multimedia Centre (CCM) in Mexico said: “Killing a priest…symbolises a demonstration of power by the criminal organisations.” Media organisations in Mexico, including the CCM, state that drug cartels have formed alliances with some politicians and judges as well as members of the police and security forces, which “causes decay in society from top to bottom”.
Mexico is the most dangerous country in Latin America for priests – suffering kidnapping, shootings, beatings, knife and bomb attacks against the Church, including Mexico City’s cathedral. The CCM noted 884 cases of clergy being threatened or blackmailed in 2017 alone. The centre added that 51 priests have been killed within the last 30 years, calculating that torture was involved in 80 percent of cases where priests were murdered.
Aid to the Church in Need (UK) news, 25th April 2018; Catholic Herald, 20th April 2018; Catholic News Agency, 11th August 2017; USA Today, 24th April 2018; Interview with the Catholic Multimedia Centre, Mexico.