MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s Roman Catholic Council of Bishops called Monday on parishes throughout the country to put photos of dead nuns and priests in their churches this Sunday and to hold Masses for all those killed in gang-fueled violence.
The call for special celebrations throughout July came after two Jesuit priests and a tour guide were murdered June 20. Authorities have identified a local gang boss reportedly affiliated with the Sinaloa cartel as the suspect in the those killings. He remains at large.
The council also called on the faithful to pray on July 31 for the conversion or redemption of the killers.
Meanwhile, another priest said he was beaten over the weekend in the violence-plagued western state of Michoacan.
Rev. Mateo Calvillo wrote in an open letter that men travelling in another vehicle cut off his car, forcing him to stop, and that one of them came around to his window and beat him savagely. The priest said he knew of no motive for the June 29 attack in the town of Querendaro, saying the man appeared irrational.
On June 24, the Council of Bishops issued an open letter telling the government that “it is time to revise the security policies that are failing.”
The two murdered priests — Rev. Javier Campos, 79, and Rev. Joaquín Mora, 80 — had spent much of their lives serving Indigenous peoples of the Sierra Tarahumara mountains. The Jesuits were shot to death in the small church in the town of Cerocahui.
The church’s Catholic Multimedia Center said seven priests have been murdered under the current administration, which took office in December 2018, and at least two dozen in the six years of the previous president.