MORELIA, Sep 23 – A priest has disappeared in Mexico’s troubled western state of Michoacan along with a teenage boy, officials said, the same week two more clerics were killed in another region.
Jose Alfredo Lopez Guillen vanished on Monday and his parish house in the village of Janamuato, within the municipality of Puruandiro, was “looted,” Cardinal Alberto Suarez Inda said.
Suarez, the archbishop in the state capital Morelia, called it a “kidnapping,” but the state prosecutor’s office said no ransom has been demanded so far.
“We beg that the life and personal integrity of the priest are respected so that he can return to his pastoral work as soon as possible,” Michoacan’s cardinal said in a statement issued by the Mexican Episcopal Conference.
“This barbarity is not justified in any way,” he added in a video posted on YouTube.
Governor Silvano Aureoles said the priest was with a boy who was around 16 years old and that they had ordered sandwiches and soft drinks to be delivered.
“After that, nobody heard from them again,” Aureoles told Radio Formula, adding that a vehicle had been taken, without providing further details.
A phone was also taken that could help the investigation, the governor added without elaborating.
“The first thing is to find the two people alive,” he said, adding that the disappearance was reported to the authorities only on Wednesday.
Magdalena Guzman, spokeswoman for the Michoacan prosecutor’s office, said earlier that Lopez Guillen had met with some people at his house on Monday night.
His assistant reported that the priest was missing after “she returned to the place on Tuesday morning and she didn’t find him,” Guzman told AFP.
At least 14 priests have been killed and two others remain missing in Mexico since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in December 2012, according to the Catholic Multimedia Center, which tracks violence against clerics in the world’s second biggest Roman Catholic country.
Two other priests, Alejo Nabor Jimenez Juarez and Jose Alfredo Suarez de la Cruz, were found dead on Monday in the eastern state of Veracruz.
The clergymen knew their killers and had been drinking with them at the church on Sunday, the Veracruz state prosecutor said, adding that the meeting turned violent and the priests were taken away along with $250 in collection money.
But the brother of Alejo Nabor rejected the prosecutor’s account, saying the authorities were trying to cover up a murder committed by “organized crime.”
Michoacan and Veracruz have endured years of drug cartel violence.