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For the Last 8 Years, Mexico has Been a Dangerous Country for Priests

Agence France-Presse
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January 31, 2013
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In Mexico, being a priest means a high-risk job. (Agence France-Presse)

Being a priest involves abstaining and generosity, dedication to prayer and the world of God, orienting his followers to the right path... regardless, in Mexico it also means a high risk job, as it is the country in America with the second-most priests assassinated.

In the last eight years, 22 Catholic clergy members were assassinated, second only to Colombia, where in the same period there were 25 violent deaths according to the news portal, lapoliciaca.com.

Data released by the Agenzia Fides on the Missionaries Killed, between 2004 and 2005, Mexico saw the death of five priests while working in areas of serious deterioration, where violence and drug trafficking are common.

In 2006, there was a standstill. That year there were no homicides against Catholic priests. The six-year Panista term under Felipe Calderon, however, was known as one of the most violent.

Between 2007 and 2012 there were 17 deaths, while the PRI administration saw almost no assassinations. Under Carlos Salinas de Gortari the most notable death was that of Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo.

Three of the four priests assassinations in the American continent in 2004 were in Mexico; the other happened in Chile.

The common characteristic of those killed, according to FIDES, was the work within particular human and social deterioration.

In 2005, two established priests were killed in zones that were strongly affected by organized crime, in 2007, after a year without assassinations, the priests Humberto Macias Rosales, Fernando Sanchez Duran and Ricardo Junious were assassinated.

In the case of the assassination of Ricardo Junious, 70, he was working directly in fighting drug trafficking and the sale of alcohol to minors in the San Rafael neighborhood in Mexico City. He was found strangled and with signs of torture inside of his own church.

Julio Cesar Mendoza and Gerardo Manuel Miranda were assassinated in 2008. The two died from gunshot wounds.

Mendonza suffered serious violence in the Nuestra Senora del Rosario church and later died in a hospital from his injuries, while Miranda, 45, received a shot to the chest on September 2, while he was in the Fray Juan de San Miguel institute where he preached.

In 2009, Mexican priest Habauc Benitez Hernandez, 39, and the young clerks, Eduardo Benitez, 19, and Silvestre Gonzalez, 21, were assassinated while in a meeting on June 12 in Tierra Caliente.

Religious personnel have also found themselves in the crossfire. That was the case of Marco Antonio Duran Romero, who died in a shootout in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, on July 2, 2011 in a confrontation between the military and armed men.

In 2010, the Mexican Epyscopal Conference (CEM), permitted that various religious celebrations be suspended due to violence in some of the zones of the country most affected by the violence, as a precaution for the priests.

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