The Mexican Council of Bishops called on authorities on Tuesday to search for a priest who has been missing for a week.
The council said Fr Joaquin Hernandez Sifuentes is a parish priest in the northern state of Coahuila, which has been plagued by drug cartel violence.
It’s unclear if foul play was involved in his disappearance, but the council said that “crime and violence destroy the most sacred thing we have, life.”
Fr Hernandez was supposed to take a short vacation from his duties beginning on January 3, according to the Saltillo Diocese. But a close friend was unable to reach him by phone that day. Early that same morning, a neighbour saw two young men take Fr Hernandez’s car, but did not see the priest with them.
The friend went to the priest’s residence at the church and found his room in a mess, with closet and drawers open and clothes on the floor, unusual for a priest who was very neat and orderly, the diocese said.
Two days later the friend returned to the priest’s residence and noticed that his suitcase packed with clothes and other belongings was still there along with the glasses that he needed to drive. Among his possessions that were missing were his car, mobile phone, tablet and computer.
Fr Hernandez was ordained in 2004 and served in several churches before arriving in his current post on the outskirts of Saltillo in 2014.
Several Catholic priests have been attacked in Mexico recently. Three priests were abducted in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz in late 2016; one was found alive, and two were found shot to death. Another priest was killed in the western state of Michoacan in September. At least 31 priests have been slain in Mexico since 2006.
Having been unable to sell in churches for well over a year due to the pandemic, we are now inviting readers to support the Herald by investing in our future. We have been a bold and influential voice in the church since 1888, standing up for traditional Catholic culture and values.
Please join us on our 130 year mission by supporting us. We are raising £250,000 to safeguard the Herald as a world-leading voice in Catholic journalism and teaching. For more information from our chairman on contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund, click here
Make a Donation
Donors giving £500 or more will automatically become sponsor patrons of the Herald. This includes two complimentary print/digital gift subscriptions, invitations to Patron events, pilgrimages and dinners, and 6 gift subscriptions sent to priests, seminaries, Catholic schools, religious care homes and prison and university chaplaincies. Click here for more information on becoming a Patron Sponsor. Click here for more information about contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund