Honduran Church Leaders Call for Full Investigation into Priest Killing

People are seen in El Paraiso, Honduras, July 24, 2021. (CNS Photo/Yoseph Amaya, Reuters)

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MEXICO CITY (CNS) – Honduran Church leaders have called for a full investigation into the kidnapping and murder of a priest in the diocese of San Pedro Sula, a crime causing outrage in the American country central.

Clergy, family and friends mourned Father José Enrique Vásquez at his March 4 funeral, two days after the priest was abducted and murdered on his way to his parish for Ash Wednesday activities .

“He was a victim of the violence that does not cease in our country. It is such serious violence that it has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people,” Bishop Ángel Garancha Pérez de San Pedro Sula said during the mass.

“I hope this murder of (Father Vásquez) will have more impact because something like this hasn’t happened for a long time. It appeals to our consciences, starting with government authorities, the police and ourselves as a society, and hopefully won’t let us get used to the violence in Honduras,” he said. .

In a March 3 statement, the Honduran Episcopal Conference said, “If these events are not investigated, as has happened so many times, we will be doomed to suffer the consequences of impunity. and forced to resign ourselves to the fact that this continues to repeat itself in our country.

The press release continues: “Faced with these acts of horror and indignation, we once again launch a strong appeal to the corresponding authorities, so that they seriously commit themselves to guaranteeing the safety of the population”.

Investigators have provided no motive for the murder of Father Vásquez, 47, who was pastor of San José del Barrio Medina parish in San Pedro Sula, long one of the most violent cities in the Americas.

Father Vásquez, the sixth of 13 siblings, left his mother’s house on March 3 and headed for his parish. He was abducted and shot six times, according to media reports.

“It was a very vicious murder,” said Father Germán Calix, former national director of Caritas Honduras.

He remembered Father Vásquez as a seminarian, calm and serious”, but also “very direct” with people and a devoted parish priest.

Violence has ravaged Honduras in recent decades as gangs control neighborhoods and drug cartels transport illegal goods across the country.

Father Calix said the priests have not been targeted by criminals. He said the last time members of the clergy were targeted in a murder was in 1975 in an incident known as the Los Horcones massacre. Then, two missionary priests who defended poor Honduran farmers were tortured and mutilated by soldiers.

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