MEXICO CITY — A Catholic priest was stabbed to death in the northern Mexico border city of Matamoros, across from Brownsville, Texas, church officials said Friday.
The Diocese of Matamoros identified the victim as Father José Martín Guzmán Vega and called on authorities to investigate the killing.
The church’s Catholic Multimedia Center said neighbors heard shouts late Thursday and found Guzmán Vega stabbed and bleeding inside his parish church. He died soon after at a local hospital.
The center said it was the first killing of a Roman Catholic priest in Mexico this year.
However, authorities in the state of Tamaulipas, where Matamoros is, said a Presbyterian minister was kidnapped from a migrant shelter that he ran in the border city of Nuevo Laredo on Aug. 3 and had not been heard from since. One migrant said the missing minister may have been snatched for trying to defend Cuban migrants who often have relatives in the U.S. and can be lucrative targets for extortion.
There was no immediate information on a possible motive in Thursday’s killing. In the past, priests have been slain in robberies, kidnappings and seemingly random confrontations.
The church center said a total of 26 Catholic priests were killed in Mexico in the previous seven years.
“Up to last year, Mexico has been considered the most dangerous country on Earth to be a priest,” the center wrote. “Little is known about the results of the investigations, and that is worrisome, because in this new political era in Mexico, impunity runs rampant.”
The center said that in several of Mexico’s dioceses “there have been reports of serious and intimidating threats” aimed at priests this year.
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