Another Spanish Priest Slain in Cuba

HAVANA, Cuba, JULY 14, 2009 ( Father Mariano Arroyo Merino, 74, was found dead Monday at the parish of Our Lady of Regla, in Havana.

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Initial investigations indicate that the priest was murdered in a knife attack early Monday morning, the archbishopric of the island capital reported.

Father Arroyo is the second Spanish priest to be assassinated in Cuba in less than a year. Father Eduardo de la Fuente Serrano, 59, was killed Feb. 14.

Father Arroyo was born in 1935 in Cantabria, Spain, and was ordained in 1960. Two years later he left Spain for missionary work in Chile; he stayed there until 1968. After a return to Spain and then more time in Chile, he arrived in Cuba in 1997. In 2004, he was named rector and pastor of the National Sanctuary of Our Lady of Regla, in front of the Havana bay.

“There he stayed until his death,” Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of Havana, explained, “developing intense pastoral ministry and showing a particular charism regarding popular religiosity and religious syncretism.”

Condolences came from Rome, Spain and Chile. The archbishop of Madrid, Antonio Rouco Varela, affirmed that Father Arroyo was “a magnificent priest, close to the poor, a profoundly religious man, dedicated to his ministry, who always left a deep evangelical mark on those who knew him.”

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