MEXICO CITY, JAN. 31, 2012 ( Just one day apart two priests were killed in the neighboring countries of Mexico and Guatemala. Church officials are attributing their deaths to the activity of criminal bands in the first case and to endemic violence in the second.

Father Genaro Díaz of the parish of the Immaculate Conception, located in Atizapán, Mexico, was killed Saturday morning in the presbytery.

Bishop Héctor Luis Morales Sánchez of the Diocese of Nezahualcóyotl lamented the priest's death at the hands of criminal gangs.

Given the lack of security, he ordered churches to be kept closed to avoid robberies and possible attacks.

The bishop expressed his condolences to the family of the murdered priest and called for the formation of families so that people will be raised with values "and we won't have incidents such as the ones we are lamenting now."

Just the day before, on Friday morning, the Church in Guatemala was mourning the death of Father David Donis Barrera, 60, who belonged to the community of Santa Rosa and was traveling with the sacristan of the Holy Family parish, Vicente Donis Barrera, who was unharmed.

Father David was brutally murdered at the highway on the border with El Salvador. He had just celebrated Mass and was on his way to Guatemala City, when a car accident took place.

The driver of the other vehicle went up to the priest and, apparently in reprisal for the accident, shot him several times. Guatemala, with 14.3 million inhabitants and an average of 16 murders a day, is one of the most violent countries of Latin America. In 2011, some 6,000 people were killed.

Hundreds of local residents, in addition to representatives of the Church, attended the priest's funeral service on Sunday.

Cardinal Rodolfo Quezada, retired archbishop of Guatemala City, was emphatic in his condemnation of the incident.

"This death is added to the thousands of Guatemalans who lose their lives in this country, both at present as during the armed conflict," he said. He invited those present to pray and to act in favor of peace.