Authorities in Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Veracruz said Saturday they are searching for a priest who went missing earlier this week in the town of Catemaco. The Veracruz state government did not name the priest, but the Mexican Bishops Council identified him as Father Jose Luis Sanchez Ruiz. The Council said he had been kidnapped.
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“We know we are living through difficult times where violence seems to be gaining ground, but we have not lost hope, and we do not become discouraged in the face of evil,” the council said in a statement. Sanchez Ruiz had participated in a recent demonstration to protest high electricity bills. The issue is important in the town because of its extreme heat.
Local media reported that Catemaco residents had staged demonstrations in the streets demanding the safe return of the priest.
Two other priests who disappeared in another part of Veracruz in September were later found murdered. Another priest was killed in Michoacan about a week later. Prosecutors have said robbery may have been a motive in those cases. The deaths brought to at least 31 the number of priests killed in Mexico since 2006.