MEXICO CITY (CNS) — Two Mexican priests were found murdered in their Veracruz parish residence in a crime that authorities attribute to a robbery gone wrong.
Fathers Hipolito Villalobos Lima and Nicolas de la Cruz Martinez, pastor and vicar, respectively, of St. Christopher Parish in the municipality of Ixhuatlan de Madero, were found dead early Nov. 29, the Diocese of Tuxpan said in a brief statement.
Five suspects, including two minors, were arrested for the crimes. Both priests were stabbed, the authorities said.
“This assassination — so violent; as Christians we see that it is nothing good, but we have to also forgive,” Archbishop Hipolito Reyes Larios of Xalapa, capital of the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz, said Dec. 1.
“We don’t know exactly what happened,” he said.
The crimes come as a few priests in Mexico have put themselves in harm’s way by speaking out against the drug cartel and organized crime violence that has claimed an estimated 70,000 lives over the past seven years.
In Tamaulipas state, just south of the Texas border, Father Carlos Ornelas Puga was kidnapped Nov. 3, and his whereabouts remain unknown, the newspaper El Universal reported, citing confirmation from a church spokesman.
In west-central Mexico, Bishop Miguel Patino Velazquez of Apatzingan published an open letter Oct. 15 calling attention to the security situation in his diocese, where priests have been threatened for providing assistance to so called “self-defense” groups that fight drug cartels.