Fr Lorenzo Rosebaugh, a missionary of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, was killed by masked gunmen on Monday, while travelling in a car with four other missionaries along a road from Chisec to the Ixcán community, 500km north of Guatemala City. Another missionary was injured in the attack.
There were calls for a police investigation at his funeral yesterday, Father José Manuel Santiago said: "We appeal to the magistrature and police to join in investigating the case, not because the victim was a priest but because people cannot continue dying and these crimes remain unpunished".
An appeal was launched also by the Archbishop's Office for Human Rights (ODHAG), once headed by Monsignor Juan José Gerardi, assassinated in 1998: "We demand an investigation to promptly shed light on this new act of violence against the Church".
Fr. Rosebaugh, 74, spent years serving the poor in the northern regions of Quiché and Alta Verapaz, among the worst hit during the civil war (1960-1996)
"He was very close to the people, good spirited, in the years ahead of the peace accord he would go by foot to visit the communities devastated by the repressive violence of the conflict", said a fellow missionary. "His death
is symptomatic of the daily violence in this nation, the most populous of Central America, where over half of the nearly 14-million inhabitants live in poverty and with a murder rate of over 5,000 a year, higher than that of the internal conflict."
He was known for his radical option for the poor. He was a very special missionary, for his honesty and lifestyle, poor among the poor".
From Brazil, a fellow missionary, Father Eduardo Figueroa said: "Fr Lorenzo was also part of the foundation of the Oblates of Recife. In the times of the military dictatorship he lived on the streets with the homeless, becoming among the first priest to make this choice in the Archdiocese in the times of Monsignor Heldere Camara. His life calls us to a real conversion to the world of the most abandoned."