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20180420T1504 17089 CNS MEXICO PRIEST STABBED 800Father Ruben Alcantara Diaz, pastor of Our Lady of Carmen Parish in Cuautitlan Izcalli, Mexico, was stabbed to death in his parish April 18. He is pictured with two unidentified women in 2015 in Mexico City. (CNS photo/courtesy Father Greg Luyet)MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- Yet another Mexican Catholic priest has been murdered in his parish -- the second such lethal attack against clergy in the country in less than a week.

Father Juan Miguel Contreras Garcia was shot dead in the St. Pius of Pietrelcina parish in the Guadalajara suburb of Tlajomulco de Zuniga.

An April 20 statement from the Jalisco state prosecutor's office said Father Contreras was confronted and shot in the sacristy. Two assailants subsequently fled in a compact car. No motive for the attack was offered. ;

The attack on Father Contreras followed the April 18 murder of Father Ruben Alcantara Diaz in the northern Mexico City suburb of Cuautitlan Izcalli.

Father Alcantara was attacked April 18, just prior to the 7 p.m. Mass at Our Lady of Carmen Parish, the Diocese of Izcalli said in a short statement.

The Mexican bishops' conference issued a call for action on the violence consuming the country and impacting the church. "We are making an urgent call to construct a culture of peace and reconciliation.

"These regrettable occurrences call all of us to a much deeper and more sincere conversion. It's time to look honestly at our culture and society in order to ask ourselves how we lost respect for life and the sacred," the conference said in an April 20 statement.

"We ask the Catholic faithful to accompany their priests with prayer, above all, in the pastoral service of the communities they are entrusted to," the statement continued./

"We ask those that do not appreciate and take away life for any reason to look up to the kind face of God, to not only lay down their weapons, but also hatred, rancor, vengeance and all destructive feelings."

Father Alcantara, who was also the diocesan judicial vicar, was accosted by the assailant and was involved in a discussion prior to the attack, according to Mexican media.

The assailant alleged abuse in his shouts and fled the scene, the newspaper Reforma reported. His whereabouts remains unknown.

Attacks on clergy have become common in Mexico, where the homicide rate reached historic high levels in 2017 and the violence consuming large swaths of the country has not spared the Catholic Church. 

he Catholic Multimedia Center has counted 23 priests killed in Mexico since December 2012, when the six-year administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto began.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.