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Third Mexican priest killed within a week

(PA)

A third priest has been killed in Mexico within a week. Fr Moises Fabila Reyes, 83, who worked in the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, was kidnapped on April 3 while on holiday. He appears to have died of a heart attack as a result of the conditions in which he was held. His family are believed to have paid a ransom of over $100,000.

A few days earlier two other priests were killed. Fr Juan Miguel Contreras was shot inside a church on the outskirts of Guadalajara while hearing Confession on April 20; Fr Rubén Alcántara, Vicar General of the Diocese of Cautitlan Izalli, outside Mexico City, was stabbed to death the day before.

“We make an urgent call to build a culture of peace and reconciliation. These lamentable events call all of us to a much deeper and sincere conversion. It is time to look honestly at our culture and society, and to ask ourselves why we have lost respect for life and for the sacred,” said Cardinal José Francisco Robles Ortega, Archbishop of Guadalajara, in a statement also signed by the secretary-general of the bishops’ conference.

“We ask those who disregard and snatch away life for whatever reason to let themselves look upon the benign visage of God, to lay down not only arms but hate, rancour, vengeance and all destructive feeling,” the statement continued.

Five priests have been killed in Mexico this year, and a total of 25 since President Enrique Pena Nieto began his six-year term of office in December 2012.

Writing in cruxnow.com, Argentinian journalist Inés San Martín points out that Mexico, which has the second-highest Catholic population in the world, is now more dangerous for priests than Syria or Iraq, where Christians are openly being persecuted.