Priest Killed in Colombia; 5 Others Already Slain This Year

ACANDI, Colombia, SEPT. 16, 2011 ( Father Gualberto Oviedo Arrieta, 34, was violently killed last weekend, the sixth Colombian priest to be slain already this year.

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The priest of Our Lady of Carmel of Capurgana had been ordained only two years, and had just celebrated his first anniversary at his parish.

His killers’ motives are uncertain, but Father Oviedo was known for his service to the poor in the Uraba region.

Auxiliary Bishop Juan Vicente Cordoba Villota of Bucaramanga, secretary-general of the Colombian bishops’ conference, said the number of priests slain this year «points to the state of violence and moral deterioration our society is going through.»

He also stressed «the courageous commitment of our presbyters with their prophetic denunciations of injustices and with the cause of the country’s poorest.»

Two priests were killed in January, one in February, one in May, and another Sept. 1.

According to figures from the Colombian Episcopal Conference, between 1984 and September of this year, two bishops, 79 priests, eight religious, and three seminarians have been killed in Colombia.

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