One day after they were kidnapped from their parish, Mexican priests Alejo Nabor Jiménez Juárez and José Alfredo Suárez de la Cruz were found murdered in a field.
The Mexican Bishops Conference confirmed the priests’ deaths and extended their condolences and prayers to the Diocese of Papantla, Mexico, where the priests served, and to the families of the two slain priests.
“We extend our pain and indignation at the violence exercised against them,” the bishops’ conference said.
“In these moment of pain, impotence and tragedy provoked by violence, we raise our prayers to the heavens for the eternal rest of these our brothers, and implore the Lord for the conversion of their aggressors,” the statement continued. “From the authorities we await an investigation to clear up what happened and the enforcement of justice against those responsible.”
“We pray to the Lord that he blesses our beloved homeland, and we ask for the intercession of Blessed Mary of Guadalupe, Queen of Peace, that united we search for integrity and the progress of our people,” the statement closed.
The Diocese of Papantla also offered its prayers “for the eternal rest of their souls and that we may be united in prayer as a Church, so that Christ the King of Peace may bring harmony to our homeland.”
The two priests were kidnapped Sept. 18 from Our Lady of Fatima Parish in the city of Poza Rica, a town located in the north of the Mexican Gulf state of Veracruz. The bodies of the two priests were found the following day in a field in the nearby city of Papantla.
A third man, identified by Veracruz authorities, was kidnapped alongside the two priests, but escaped and was found alive. Veracruz officials said that he had been placed under protection.
Poza Rica and surrounding areas in Veracruz have been the locus of drug and associated cartel violence for years, but it is yet unclear why the priests were targeted. Priests have also been the target of violence elsewhere in Mexico.