MEXICO CITY – A Catholic priest was shot and killed as he was driving along a highway in western Mexico, state officials announced Tuesday.
The body of religious Javier García Villafana was found inside his car on Monday in the middle of a highway near the city of Capacho in the state of Michoacán, indicated the state attorney general’s office, which has already opened an investigation into the incident. There were multiple bullet wounds on the body.
With the death of García Villafana, there are now nine priests who have been murdered in Mexico in the past four years.
According to the Multimedia Catholic Center report, García Villafana was appointed to the parish of Capacho in the municipality of Huandacario, where he arrived a month ago.
Condemning the death, the Mexican Episcopal Conference (CEM) on Tuesday called on the authorities to conduct a detailed and transparent investigation to identify and punish those responsible.
“We cannot allow this and other similar acts to go unpunished. It is essential that the rule of law is restored and the safety of all citizens is guaranteed,” the CEM said in a statement.
Three months earlier, Pastor José Angulo Fonseca was shot in the western state of Jalisco. Last June, Mexican Jesuits Javier Campos Morales and Joaquín Mora Salazar were murdered in the northern state of Chihuahua. A month earlier, the death of Father José Guadalupe Rivas, who ran a migrant shelter, was reported in the northern municipality of Tecate in the state of Baja California.
In 2021, a Franciscan priest was killed when he was caught in the crossfire of a rival cartel on a highway between Durango and Zacatecas state lines. Another was executed in the central state of Morelos and another in the state of Guanajuato that year. In August 2019, the murder of religious José Martín Guzmán Vega was reported in the border city of Matamoros.
García Villafana’s murder came a day after the Mexican Episcopal Conference expressed its solidarity and condemned the attack on the priest Faustino Arméndez Jiménez, Archbishop of Durango State.
On Sunday, an elderly man tried to stab Armandriz at a Durango church. The archbishop was unharmed.