Another priest killed in Mexico as violence against Christians soars
Another Catholic priest has been found stabbed to death in Mexico.
The highly devout country is also one of the most dangerous to be a Catholic priest, with nearly 50 murders in the past decade alone.
Father Luis Lopez Villa, parish priest of San Isidro Labrador in Mexico State, was found dead in his room shortly after 8pm on Wednesday, local media reported.
The suspects broke into the church and then entered the rectory, making enough noise to raise the alarm with neighbours calling church staff for help, according to the Catholic News Agency.
But when they arrived the 71-year-old was found dead, tied by his hands and feet with stab wounds in his chest and neck.
Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Archbishop of Mexico, sent his condolences to 'the Diocese of Nezahualcóyotl and of the whole Church in the country for the murder of the priest'.
He added he was praying for the 'eternal rest' of the priest and for 'the conversion of those who perpetrated this damnable deed'.
Fr Villa is the 18th priest to be murdered in the last six years, according to CNA.
Trying to explain the rising trend of violence against priests, Jorge Eugenio Hernandez Trasloheros, a professor in Latin American studies at the University of Mexico, previously told Christian Today it was 'not strange that priests suffer the same fate of the people' and the deaths were part of typical levels of violence in Mexico.
'Mexican priests are leaders in their communities. They are no saints but they usually do their job very well. It is not strange that they are a target of the gangs. The criminals want people isolated and full of fear,' he said.
But Omar Sotelo, a priest and director of Mexico's Catholic Multimedia Center (CCM), said clergy attract particular violence because they preach against injustice and violence. 'They're defending migrants, they're against drug trafficking,' he said when his report was launched in February 2016. 'And the priests often know who the criminals are, having seen them grow up in the towns. Eventually, some criminals can see that as a threat.'