Mexico: Eighth Priest Murdered in President López Obrador’s Six-Year Term

The Mexican bishops urgently call on the competent authorities to carry out an exhaustive and transparent investigation that leads to the identification and punishment of those responsible.

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Enrique Villegas

(ZENIT News / Michoacán, Mexico, 05.24.2023).- On Monday, May 22, a day after the attack on the Archbishop of Durango, Father Javier García Villafaña of the parish of Capacho in Huandacareo, Michoacán was shot dead. The Police of the Mexican State of Michoacán said that the crime was reported around 7 o’clock in the evening. The priest was a friar of the Augustinian Order.

According to the Multimedia Catholic Center, during the six-year term of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, [eight] priests have now been murdered, namely:


1.Father José Martín Guzmán Vega, 55, killed in August in the community Christ King of Peace, communal farmland of Saint Adelaide, of the diocese of Matamoros. His denunciations against the State Government were harsh and severe.


1.Father José Guadalupe Popoca Soto, 42, parish priest of Saint Nicholas of Bari in Galleana, Zacatepec, diocese of Cuernavaca, Morelos, killed in August 2021.

2.Father Gumersindo Cortés González, 63, of the clergy of the diocese of Celaya. On March 28, 2021, the District Attorney’s Office of the State of Guanajuato reported the finding of his lifeless body with traces of violence. The priest had disappeared since the morning of Saturday, March 27.

3.Friar Juan Antonio Orozco González, OFM, 33, fell victim of crossfire on June 12, 2021. According to data submitted by those in charge of the Franciscan Province to which he belonged, the Religious and parish priest, together with other laymen who were accompanying him, were trapped in a confrontation between rival cartels. The victim was on his way to celebrate Mass in the “Tepehuana de Pajaritos” community and in Mezquital, Durango. The incidents happened on the road bordering the States of Durango and Zacatecas. 


1.Father José Guadalupe Rivas, 58, who had disappeared since Sunday, May 15, 2022, was found in a shack close to the Saint Veronica Hacienda in Tecate of the Archdiocese of Tijuana. He was President of the Migrants’ House  located in “El Descanso” colony in Tecate, which he had joined in 2021. 

2.Fathers Javier Campos Morales, SJ, 43, and Joaquín César Mora Salazar, SJ, 81, were killed inside the mission on June 20, 2022 in Cerocahui, Chihuahua. 

For its part, in a press release the Mexican Episcopal Conference condemned “this act of violence, which not only has taken a life, but it also attempts against peace and justice in our nation. It is a painful reminder of the serious situation we face as society, in which the presence of organized crime and impunity continue threatening the life and safety of many.”

The Mexican Bishops make “an urgent appeal to the competent authorities to carry out an exhaustive and transparent investigation, which leads to the identification and sanction of those responsible. We cannot permit that this and other similar acts go unpunished.” They also said that “It’s essential that the State of Law be re-established and that the safety of all citizens is guaranteed, especially of those that dedicate their life at the service of others. As Pastors, we renew our commitment to proclaim the Gospel of Peace and Reconciliation in the midst of adversity. We will continue accompanying our communities, strengthening faith and promoting justice, human dignity and dialogue as instruments for social transformation .”

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