Record Number of Priests Face Violence, Murder in Mexico

  • A photo of Reverend Gregorio Lopez Gorostieta, who was killed in 2014
    A photo of Reverend Gregorio Lopez Gorostieta, who was killed in 2014 | Photo: AFP
More than 80 percent of priest murders reportedly go unsolved.

While Mexico is one of the most devout Catholic countries in the world, for eight consecutive years it has been the world’s most dangerous country for priests, who are being killed and attacked at record rates, according to a report from the Catholic Media Centre.

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In 2016, three Mexican priests were killed and four other Catholic teachers were also killed, according to the report from the Catholic Media Centre, which said that 2016 has been the deadliest year for priests since they started keeping records.

Between 1990 and 2016, the rate of murdered priests increased by a staggering 375 percent, where 38 priests have either been killed or gone missing. According to reports, more than 80 percent of priest murders have gone unsolved.

The report comes amid increased attacks against religious figures including violent threats and extortion, where Mexico has been labeled the most dangerous country in the world for religious officials for eight years running.

Between 1990 and 2016, 61 attacks were reported against Catholic Church members in the country. In 2016, extortions, at least those that were reported, rose by 70 percent.

The Catholic Media Centre said that while the majority of violence against the church was due to a spilling over of violence from organized crime groups, Mexican security forces were also involved in some incidents.

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Since former President Felipe Calderon launched a militarized war on drug cartels a decade ago, rates of violence and murder have shot up in Mexico and so too, attacks on members of the church.

The report warned that amid widespread violence in Mexico under Enrique Peña Nieto’s current presidency, who has continued Calderon’s drug war, violence against Catholic leaders will increase by 100 percent.

The group heavily criticized the government’s poor response to the increased attacks, where there were 25 recorded attacks against church leaders in since Nieto took power in 2012.

In September, Mexico was shocked after three priests were kidnapped and killed within a week of each other, including Jose Alfredo Lopez Guillen who was kidnapped from his small parish in the state of Michoacan. His body was later found with five bullet wounds.

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