For the third time this year in the violent Mexican state of Guerrero, a Roman Catholic priest has been abducted and killed, prompting a vehement reproach of government authorities by the church leadership.
The body of Father Gregorio Lopez Gorostieta was discovered on Christmas Day, a bullet to the head; he had been seized by gunmen on Sunday, church and judicial officials said.
"Enough already of so many murders, so many hatreds, so much crime.... Enough of injustice and corruption," the bishop overseeing Lopez Gorostieta's dioceses, Maximo Martinez, said in a statement published Saturday. "We are all brothers and not slaves."
The priests worked in Guerrero state, where 43 college students were abducted and presumed killed. The remains of only one of the students has been identified. Federal police and military launched a security operation in the region after the students disappeared, but kidnappings, highway robberies and other violence remain common, the church said.
The body of another priest, Father John Ssenyondo, originally of Uganda, was found in September in a clandestine grave, one of dozens unearthed in Guerrero when authorities began searching for the missing students. He had been intercepted by gunmen in late April and vanished. There were reports that the motive for his killing might have been his refusal to perform a wedding or baptism for drug traffickers, something that often gets rigorous clerics into trouble.
Also in September, the body of Father Ascension Acuna Osorio,was found battered and floating in a river in Guerrero.
The Conference of Mexican Bishops issued a demand that the authorities find those behind the killings "and the many other crimes" terrifying Mexicans.
The church for many years generally kept to the sidelines of drug-trafficking and violence, and even on occasion turned a blind eye to criminals and accepted money to build chapels. Increasingly, however, as security in Mexico deteriorates, many clerics have found themselves falling prey to the bloodshed.