Another Roman Catholic priest was found dead in Mexico this week. The body of Father Francisco Javier Gutiérrez Díaz, 60, was found with a bullet wound to the head and his body abandoned on a dirt road to the community of Ojo Agua de Ballesteros, in Guanajuato state.
The priest was attacked after leaving his parish, Our Lady of the Rosary, in Salvatierra. Authorities say his money, wallet, and cell phone were missing.
According to the preliminary investigation 5688/2015-I, another priest-who was not mentioned by name-went to the PGJ to report that Father Francisco Javier had left the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary (Capuchin) in Salvatierra, for travel to Acambaro. There, he said, allegedly to close a deal for the purchase of a small plot of land, but did not specify with whom and where would the meeting.
Across the country, church leaders decried the senseless murder. The Vatican has said Mexico is the most dangerous country in Latin America for clergymen.
The Archbishop of Morelia, Cardinal Alberto Suárez Inda, confirmed the news of the murder, and noted that he ordained Díaz as a priest on Jan. 8, 1986.
"With deep sorrow I announce the death of Father Francisco Javier Gutiérrez Díaz, of the Congregation of the Workers of the Kingdom of Christ. After leaving his parish on Monday, April 6, he was killed and his body was found outside Salvatierra," Inda told Fides News Agency.
"United in prayer, we are indignant at the death of Father Francisco Javier Gutiérrez Díaz, of Capuchinas in Salvatierra Guanajuato," said the Archbishop "When will this end? Enough with so much blood spilled!"
Father Prisciliano Hernández, identified as a friend of Díaz by El Observador, added: "I can't find the words to express my pain at the death of my friend and my brother, who in his life cut down evil and hate. It's a cruel injury that wounds the soul of his family, his friends and a community that prized and loved the priest .. He's one more victim of the violence that lives in our country. We pray that his soul rests in peace."
Pope Francis has condemned the growing number of murders committed against priests in Mexico, including the killing of the Rev. Gregorio Lopez Gorostieta, whose body was discovered on Christmas Day in 2014. Gorostieta, who was kidnapped by armed men from a seminary in Ciudad Altamirano a week earlier, was found strangled to death. (DD: as reported on BB)
The Vatican released statistics last year that revealed Mexico is the most dangerous country in Latin America for priests, recording at least 47 attacks against members of clergy committed in the past 24 years.
Díaz is the tenth priest killed in Mexico in the past two years, according to the LA Times.
In addition to Father Gregoria Lopez killed on last Christmas Eve, in September, the body of Rev Ascension Acuna Osorio was found in the Balsas River, with no explanation given for either death.
Ugandan priest visiting Mexico, Rev John Ssenyondo, was kidnapped and killed in May 2014 after officiating Mass. His body was discovered in November during a search for kidnapped students.
There have also been drive-by shootings targeting priests, threats of violence, and other terrorising acts. The clergymen believe they are being attacked for condemning the rampant violence in Guerrero state, which has been attributed to the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel.
Father Prisciliano Hernández, a friend of Díaz, according to El Observador, mourned the loss of so many lives.
"I can't find the words to express my pain at the death of my friend and my brother, who in his life cut down evil and hate," he said. "He's one more victim of the violence that lives in our country."