Photo: Violence Against Mexico's Priests
Last year more than one thousand priests were victims of attempted extortions (for their “protection”, amounts ranging from ten thousand to two million Mexican pesos have been demanded). About 162 were threatened with death.
Two priests were kidnapped and killed. In the last six years, the most violent of all time, 12 men religious were killed. According to an analysis by Catholic Media Centre (CMC), criminals are seeking money in exchange for protection, while pastors are being threatened with arson against their churches.
Comparing the figures, during the administration of Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000) three priests were murdered. During the government of Vicente Fox (2000-2006) there were four assaults against priests, but under the present government of Felipe Calderón there has been the highest number of murders of priests: 12. The states with the highest incidence of crimes against priests and religious are the Federal District, Chihuahua, Guerrero, Jalisco, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Michoacán, Hidalgo, Aguascalientes, Coahuila e Puebla.
The report prepared by the Research Centre of the CMC on violence against priests across the country, is divided into two parts, and goes back to 1993. This report not only presents the data collected, but it also gives a series of answers to the question: “Why are priests in Mexico persecuted and killed?”. The different responses outline a neo-persecution of priests for what they represent in the community. They try to intimidate, to harass or to limit their freedom because the priests, in the end, perform a public function that generally disturbs criminal acts.