Jesuits in a moment of silence in Mexico because of murdered priests
MEXICO CITY — The Roman Catholic church began a special round of prayers for peace in Mexico on Sunday after two Jesuit priests and a tour guide were killed on June 20.
The Jesuits held a moment of silence for the priests, who were killed by a local drug cartel leader as they tried to protect the guide.
Dozens of people gathered at the downtown memorial known as the Stella of Light for a moment of silence.
The Jesuits said they would not be threatened when they leave the mountains of Tarahumara, where orders have served the Rarámuri Indigenous community for centuries. Pastor Jorge Atilano González said two priests have been appointed to replace their deceased brothers.
“Today we are starting a cycle of prayer for peace at the national level. It was the beginning of a month that marked the memory of all those killed and disappeared. Today we are remembering the priests, journalists, activists and young people who died violently,” González told the meeting.
So far, 12 journalists have been killed in Mexico, making it the most dangerous country for journalists outside of war zones.
The church’s Catholic Multimedia Center says seven priests have been killed under the current administration, which took office in December 2018, and at least two dozen during the previous president’s six years.
But more average citizens were killed in gang violence.
“More than 100,000 people have disappeared and 122,000 people have been killed in this administration is a source of pain, strength, anger and courage to build justice, reconciliation and peace,” González said.
The murdered priests, Father Javier Campos, 79, and Father Joaquín Mora, 80, spent most of their lives serving the indigenous peoples of the Sierra Tarahumara mountains. Jesuits were shot dead in a small church in the town of Cerocahui.
The bishops also called on the faithful to pray on July 31 for the conversion or redemption of murderers.
“What we are asking as Jesuits is peace in Sierra Tarahumara, safety for the Rarámuri communities, as well as for the religious community,” González said.
“We are also asking for justice, to strengthen local institutions,” such as the police force, he said. “It will not be enough with the presence of the military and the National Guard. We need stronger local institutions.”