Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Six priests assassinated in Colombia in 2011

It is a well known fact that it isn't safe to be a trade unionist or a journalist in Colombia. Now it appears that it isn't safe to be a man of the cloth either. Six priests have been killed so far this year in that country.

On Monday, Fr. Gualberto Oviedo Arrieta's body was found at his residence. According to El Tiempo, Fr. Gualberto (34), pastor of Nuestra Señora del Carmen in Capurganá (Diocese of Antioquia), had been killed by a machete to the head. He was the sixth priest to be killed this year. The others were:

  • Fr. Reynel Restrepo Idárraga, a pastor in Marmato (Caldas), who had been living two years in that area and who was shot on September 1st as he was travelling by motorcycle on the road between the towns of Belén de Umbría and Guática.

  • Fr. Gustavo García, a Eudist priest and chaplain of the Universidad Minuto de Dios, who was murdered on May 12th in Bogota by a man who robbed him of his cellphone.

  • Fr. Luis Carlos Orozco Cardona was killed on the evening of February 12th in the village of Rionegro (Antioquia).

  • On January 27th, the bodies of Fr. Rafael Reátiga Rojas (Diocese of Soacha) and Fr. Richard Armando Piffano Laguado (Diocese of Fontibón) were found in the Kennedy area in Bogota.
The Colombian Bishops' Conference reports that from 1984 to September 2011, two bishops, 79 priests, 8 religious, and 3 seminarians have been killed in that country.

It issued a statement condemning the latest murder. Msgr. Juan Vicente Córdoba, secretary-general of the bishops' conference, called the number of murders very troubling. He said that it "shows the state of violence and moral deterioration of our society." Msgr. Córdoba stressed "the brave commitment of our priests to the prophetic denunciation of injustice and to the cause of the poorest in the country."

Photo: Wake for Fr. Richard Armando Piffano Laguado, one of the first priests to be killed in Colombia in 2011

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