Colombian Bishops Mourn 19 Priests Killed in 5 Years

May 19 Pro-Life March Seen as Response to Culture of Violence

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Archbishop Jairo Jaramillo Monsalve presided Wednesday over the funeral of one of his priests, Father José Antonio Valle Bayona, killed violently at the age of 48.

The parish priest of the Diocese of Barranquilla, Colombia, was found in a ditch with 17 stab wounds, mostly on his face and neck.

He is the 19th priest to be killed in Colombia in five years. According to the Fides news agency, so far this year, four Colombian priests have been murdered. A priest was murdered in 2012 . Six priests and a layman working for the Church were murdered in 2011; three priests and one religious were murdered in 2010; and five priests and another lay worker met a violent death in 2009.

“With love, the pastors, archbishop, his auxiliary bishop and the priests, in communion with all the members of the Catholic Church, repudiate vehemently this atrocious act, which cut short the life of presbyter Valle Bayona, causing profound grief within the Church and in the communities where he did missions as the Lord’s ordained minister,» a statement from the archdiocese said.

The statement made the observation that the murder «shows once again the difficult situation that our society faces, far from true living in communion and fraternity, unleashing a generalized violence which causes an alarming number of victims in the country.»

It added that this latest murder shows the importance of the upcoming pro-life march, scheduled for May 19, which is to manifest a «rejection of all kinds of violence that attack human life.»

Negotiations for peace between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, are still under way in Havana, but after six months of talking, little headway has been made.

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