After hearing of the murder of two priests in Mexico, Pope Francis sent a telegram to the country’s bishops condemning the violent act, offering his prayers as a sign of closeness to the community and families affected.
“Deeply distressed upon receiving the sad news of the assassination
of Reverends Alejo Nabor Jimenez Juarez and Jose Alfredo Suarez de la
Cruz…the Holy Father expresses his sincerest condolences,” read the
telegram, sent Sept. 20.
Signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the
telegram voiced the Pope’s closeness to Bishop Trinidad Zapata of
Papantla, where the priests served, as well as to all clergy, religious
communities and faithful of the diocese.
He offered his prayers “for the eternal repose of these priests of Christ, victims of an inexcusable violence.”
On Monday, the bodies of Mexican priests Alejo Nabor Jiménez Juárez
and José Alfredo Suárez de la Cruz were found murdered in a field after
having been kidnapped from their parish.
They were kidnapped the previous day from Our Lady of Fatima Parish
in the city of Poza Rica, a town located in the north of the Mexican
Gulf state of Veracruz. The bodies of the two priests were found the
following day in a field in the nearby city of Papantla.
A third man, identified by Veracruz authorities, was kidnapped
alongside the two priests, but escaped and was found alive. Veracruz
officials said that he had been placed under protection.
Poza Rica and surrounding areas in Veracruz have been the locus of
drug and associated cartel violence for years, but it is yet unclear why
the priests were targeted. Priests have also been the target of
violence elsewhere in Mexico.
Pope Francis recently condemned the escalation of drug activity and
violence in Mexico during his visit to the country earlier this year,
telling a group of laborers Feb. 17 to work toward finding adequate
means to end “the cycle of drugs and violence.”
He said the lack of decent work and opportunity leads to situations
of poverty, which then becomes “the best breeding ground for the young
to fall into the cycle of drug trafficking and violence.”
This, the Pope said, “is a luxury which no one can afford; we cannot
allow the present and future of Mexico to be alone and abandoned.”
In his telegram to Bishop Zapata, the Pope voiced his “firm
condemnation of all that attacks life and the dignity of people,” and
urged the clergy and pastoral agents of the diocese to continue their
mission with enthusiasm by imitating Christ, “despite the obstacles.”