In an isolated case, yet another priest was murdered in Mexico, his body recovered on Saturday in the Tierra Caliente region of Michoacán, known for civil unrest and for being an epicenter for the country’s drug production and trafficking.
Despite the prevalence of organized crime in the region, the auxiliary bishop of Morelia, Herculano Medina Gargias, qualified the murder of Father Miguel Gerardo Flores Hernández as an “isolated case.”
Authorities haven’t yet given an official version of what happened, but the archdiocese presumes that the priest was the victim of a robbery since the truck he was traveling in is still missing.
Flores had disappeared on August 18, and three days later he was officially declared missing. His body was reportedly found on Saturday.
Despite the assertions of the archdiocese, the local civil authorities haven’t yet identified the body due to the advanced state of decomposition. The authorities also noted the body was wearing clothes different to the ones the priest had on the day he went missing.
“The motive we could define as this: It was to steal his truck and we known nothing else in the sense of how they kiledl him,” Medina is quoted as saying by local media. “These are isolated cases because if there was a war declared against the Catholic Church more of us would have been deprived of our lives and the cases are not that high in number.”
“They are isolated cases not tied to one another,” he insisted.
As Herculano Media noted, to date this is the only priest killed in Michoacan in the past six years. However, two others are considered “missing” — after they disappeared in 2012 and 2013.
Regarding a possible targeting of the Catholic Church in the Michoacan State, Herculano Medina said that “we know that everyone is exposed at this moment, as any other person, to an assault, a robbery, threats and extortions. The position of the Church continues to be a call for reconciliation and forgiveness.”
The bishop also said that being a priest who has to minister in isolated regions is not a guarantee of safety, and raised doubts over the police force itself.
“Sometimes the police have ties with criminals and other people and the priests can be taken somewhere else, and they’re not necessarily taking care of them and protecting them. My safety wouldn’t be guaranteed because I was in their custody,” he said.
At least 24 priests have been killed in Mexico in the past six years, the majority of them in cases related to organized crime or after threats from drug dealers, who see the Catholic Church as an obstacle to their business.