A man has been killed as he attended a Mass in Colombia on Tuesday evening.
The parishioner – Fernando Padilla, 35 – was shot by a gunman as he attended a packed Mass at Santa Cecilia church in the town of Cali.
Padilla was shot in front of the congregation who had gathered to celebrate the Mass for the feast of the parish patron. Archbishop Dario de Jesus Monsalve Mejia of Cali was among the witnesses.
Archbishop Mejia condemned the shooting. He told Agenzia Fides: “Taking advantage of the gathering in churches to kill a parishioner and create terror among the faithful goes beyond any rational consideration.
“Unfortunately not even the fear of God stops the absolute disregard for human life that has roots in the soul of vast sectors of our Colombian society.”
This is the third killing inside the church in less than three years, according to Fides. Cali, Colombia’s third-largest city, suffers from a high murder rate because of fighting between cartels and local gangs.
Violence against Christians is often rife in the South American country. Colombia is currently ranked 46th on Open Doors’s World Watch List for persecution of Christians.
John Allen, writing for Crux, said anti-Christian violence by Colombia’s armed bands was “stunningly routine”, “in part, [because] Christians generally don’t support either revolution or counterinsurgency; in part, because they’re suspected of informing for the government or the opposition; and, in part, because they oppose the drug trade that’s become a primary revenue stream for armed factions of all stripes.”