MEXICO CITY (AP) — A young Roman Catholic priest was shot dead in the west-central Mexican state of Jalisco, becoming the second cleric slain this week in a country said to lead the region in such killings.
Juan Miguel Contreras Garcia, 33, was murdered late Friday at a parish in Tlajomulco de Zuniga, on the outskirts of Guadalajara, the Catholic Multimedia Center said Saturday, adding that he was apparently performing the sacrament of penance at the time of the attack.
The Jalisco state prosecutor’s office said early indications suggest two men entered the sacristy, fired directly at the priest and then fled in a car. It said Contreras suffered multiple gunshot wounds, and paramedics who arrived at the scene were unable to keep him alive.
The center said Contreras became a priest just two years ago.
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The killing came two days after Rev. Ruben Alcantara Diaz, 50, was stabbed to death in his church on the outskirts of Mexico City. Local media reported he had argued with his killer, who fled after the attack.
“These regrettable incidents call us all to a much more profound and sincere conversation,” the Mexican Conference of Bishops said in a statement. “It is time to look honestly at our culture and society, to ask ourselves why we have lost respect for life and what is sacred.”
“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, rancor, vengeance and all destructive feeling,” read the statement, which was signed by the archbishop of Guadalajara and the secretary-general of the bishops’ conference.
According to the Catholic Multimedia Center, at least four priests have been slain in Mexico this year and 23 have been murdered since 2012. It says Mexico tops Latin America in the killings of priests.