Two Jesuit priests murdered in Moscow

 Two Jesuit priests based in Moscow were killed on Tuesday in a "brutal murder", Fr Igor Kowalewski, general secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Russia, announced yesterday.

Fr Kowalewski, said the priests' bodies were found late Tuesday in an apartment owned by the Jesuits in downtown Moscow. It appeared that they had been stabbed to death.

According to the BBC, the priests were Fr Otto Messmer, a Russian citizen, and Fr Viktor Betancourt, from Ecuador.

Moscow police have launched an investigation. .

In an official statement the Russian Catholic Bishops said: "The Catholic Church in Russia has suffered a great loss. Ardent pastors loved by the believers have passed away. The Church prays to the merciful Lord to repose the souls of Reverend Viktor and Reverend Otto in dwellings of the righteous and grant them His Heavenly Kingdom.

The Catholic Church also "prays for those who committed this awful crime, so that the Lord grant them the mercy of repentance," as "murder is a heavy and grievous sin and everyone who committed it should bear just punishment."

"The Church hopes Russian law enforcement agencies will find the criminals and the Court and society will give objective legal and moral assessment of their crimes."

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