MEXICO CITY (CNS) — A Franciscan priest was killed in a hail of gunfire on his way to celebrate Mass and provide sacraments in a rural Mexican village known for drug cartel conflicts.
Father Juan Antonio Orozco, 33, was struck June 12 in the late morning as he drove in a rural region of western Durango state, where “he entered the crossfire of two groups fighting” over the Durango to Zacatecas highway,” Bishop Luis Flores Calzada of Tepic said in a brief social media post.
The bishop included a photo of the victim, appearing to wear white robes, lying in front of a red pickup that identified the Franciscans’ parish ministry. The truck had several bullet holes.
Franciscan Father Gilberto Hernández, spokesman for the Order of Friars Minor, said the slain priest had traveled to celebrate Mass in a rural village. Father Orozco was one of three Franciscan priests serving the Santa Lucía de la Sierra parish in a rugged and isolated part of Zacatecas state.
The spokesman said no threats against Father Orozco had been made, even though the region has public security issues.
“The death of our parish priest shocks us greatly,” said a statement on Santa Lucía de la Sierra parish Facebook page. Calls to the parish went unanswered.
“We call on the civil authorities to finally put a limit to the violence and harassment of our communities. There are now many victims among our people and now our priest. Who’s next?”
The violent death of Father Orozco — known as Padre Juanito — marks the latest killing of a priest in Mexico. At least 29 priests have been killed in Mexico since 2012, according to the Catholic Multimedia Center.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: Discussions with bishops on new synod process begins
NEXT: Irish bishops choose woman to lead prep for synod
Share this story