Yet another minister has been murdered in Mexico, bringing the total number of Christian leaders killed since 2012 to 27.
José Martín Guzmán Vega was murdered August 22 in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, in northeast Mexico. According to the Catholic Multimedia Center, Guzman was stabbed several times with a knife as he returned to his office from a walk outside.
“Neighbors heard cries for help inside the parish, when they approached they saw Father José Martín seriously injured so he was transferred to the General Hospital of the town to be treated,” the Spanish report explained. “Minutes later his death was declared.”
In response to the killing, Fr. Guzmán’s bishop, Eugenio Lira Rugarcía of the Diocese of Matamoros, said he was in “deep pain” over the “unfortunate death of the presbyter José Martín Guzmán Vega, of whom the competent authorities have already begun investigations to clarify the facts and do justice.”
“In the meantime, we express our condolences to the Guzmán Vega family and the Cristo Rey de la Paz Parish Community, Ejido Santa Adelaida, and invite everyone to join in prayer to ask God for the eternal rest of Fr. Martin,” the bishop added.
Incidents of Christian leaders being killed in Mexico have increased dramatically in recent years.
Just a couple of weeks back, in Mexico’s Oaxaca state, pastor Alfrery Líctor Cruz Canseco was shot to death as he gave a sermon to his congregation at Fraternidad Cristiana church in the municipality of Tlalixtac de Cabrer.
Incredibly, as the attacker attempted to flee the scene, he was overpowered by members of the congregation, who subdued him until police arrived. Speaking to Faithwire, a spokesperson for Christian Solidarity Worldwide confirmed that the assailant “shot at members as they attempted to apprehend him.”
In addition, on August 3, pastor Aaron Méndez Ruíz was kidnapped while attempting to stop Cuban immigrants from being taken by the gang, Christianity Today reported.
Many have pointed to a resurgence in drug cartel activity as the reason for the spike in killings and kidnappings.
In its 2017 Annual Report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom stated that criminal gangs such as Los Zetas and Knights Templar have been increasingly targeting Catholic priests and other faith leaders with death threats, extortion, and intimidation.
Faithwire has reached out to Christian Solidarity Worldwide for comment on the most recent murder, and the concerning increase in violence against Christian leaders as a whole.