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Four Missionaries Tortured, Killed In Mexico Amid Growing Tension Between Drug Cartels, Catholic Church

( [email protected] ) Oct 06, 2016 01:10 PM EDT
Four Catholic missionaries were tortured and killed in Mexico, presumably by an armed gang who abducted the men outside their church in La Ruana in the western state of Michoacan.
August was the bloodiest month in the country since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in December 2012. AP photo

Four Catholic missionaries were tortured and killed in Mexico, presumably by an armed gang who abducted the men outside their church in La Ruana in the western state of Michoacan.

According to Crux, the men, who had been missing for several days, were found half-naked, tortured, with gunshot wounds and wrapped in plastic bags in a lemon plantation on the side of a road. The four were identified as Willibaldo Hernández, Adán Valencia, Jesús López Urbina and Jesús Ayala Aguilar, and were all members of a missionary group called "Arcoiris" (Rainbow).

"These were good people, hardworking people," Hipólito Mora, leader of one of the region's self-defense groups told Efe. "These young men worked with their parents, their families. One of them, 'El Chuy,' recently left the self-defense group to continue his work in Arcoiris."

What exactly happened to the men and why, remains murky, but Crux suggests a drug cartel may be involved, as Mexico-based Catholic Multimedia Center found that violence against the clergy occurs disproportionately in states with high levels of organized crime, such as Michoacán and Veracruz. The outlet notes that in recent years, priests have clashed with members of such organizations, either by refusing to pay extortion money or by preaching against organized crime in sermons.

Fox News concurs that the Catholic Church in Mexico appears to be under siege, as at least 15 Catholic priests have been killed in the country in the last four years, including Father José Alfredo López Guillén, whose body was found the night of Sept. 24. The outlet notes that August was the bloodiest month in the country since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in December 2012.

Following the most recent murders, parish priest José Luis Segura Barragán took to on Facebook to call on Mexico's government to "seriously tackle" organized crime and to urge the Church, "the mother of the believers", to speak up to defend her children who suffer from ongoing violence

"We can't endure more murders, executions, abductions, kidnapping, extortion and other cruel and destructive events that criminals commit against society and the Catholic Church," he wrote.

"What mother won't stand up for their children, even sacrificing his own life!" he continued. "Church leaders can demand that the civil authorities comply with their duty to provide security to the lives, property and institutions of the community.

"And to the community itself it's your turn to feel one, not divided, not being divided in two or more parties and irreconcilable enemies," the priest concluded. "To the community it's up to overcome their hatred, grudges, fears, enconos and bad memories, that the sacrifice of the boys of the rainbow is not worthless. May it be a source of sorrow and reconciliation of the families and all the who live in La Ruana."

Tags : Mexico, drug cartel, Missionary, Michoacan, Catholic Church