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Mexico: priest and two seminarians murdered

A priest and two seminarians, were shot dead in Mexico on 13 June. The victims were Fr Habacuc Hernandez Benitez, 39, Vocations Coordinator for the Diocese of Altamirano, Eduardo Oregón Benítez, 19, and Silvestre González Cambrón, 21, both of Ajuchitlan (Guerrero).

The three were killed on their way to a meeting for Vocations Ministry on Saturday evening in Arcelia, Tierra Caliente. According to the police, around 7pm on Saturday, they were driving in a pick-up truck, down one of the main streets of Argelia, when another car approached them and forced them out of the truck, firing on them with several 9 mm calibre bullets.

A wake was held for them at the Seminary of Ciudad Altamirano and on Monday, their bodies were taken to their hometowns.

Archbishop Felipe Aguirre Franco of Acapulco, after celebrating a Mass at the Church of "Nuestra Señora de la Soledad," gave a press conference on Sunday iin which he said the motive for the attack was a mystery.

"It is a blow to Guerrero and for the Church of the Diocese of Altamirano. We are grieved by the death of the priest and the young men," the Archbishop said.

"We become hostages in this violent confrontation of getting even with those above us, this is also contagious among people, as they imitate these violent acts and they want to live as if it were a jungle," said Archbishop Aguirre Franco.

He said "We are becoming a society that is 'Cain-izing' itself with brothers killing brothers." He said the armed forces were 'not enough' to resolve the problems of drug trafficking and violence, and called on the authorities to do more to combat the problem.

The Mexican Bishops' Conference has issued a statement condemning the murders and expressing condolences to their families and friends.

The statement reads: "We also decry the violence that is plaguing our country and we ask the corresponding authorities on all levels of government to conduct a prompt investigation and to find out who has been responsible for this cowardly crime."

They end by asking everyone to join in prayer for the Diocese, the Seminary, and the families, "that the Lord may give them strength and consolation soon."

The Archdiocese of Mexico City also issued a statement denouncing the killings and calling for justice for the killers and prayers for the victims.


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