By Deborah Bonello / LAT
Father Oscar Prudenciano Gonzalez opened his arms wide to his congregation on a recent Sunday morning in the San Gerardo church of Iguala, in the state of Guerrero.
“We are going to pray for those families who have missing people,” he said. “That God gives them the strength, the peace and the well-being so that they can carry on searching without tiring, but also with the understanding and support of everyone.”
Father Oscar, 43, might do well to pray for himself, too.
In the last three years, 11 priests have been violently killed in Mexico, and two more remain missing. Last week, the body of Father Erasto Pliego de Jesus, which bore signs of torture, was found on a country road in Puebla state. He had been missing for three days, according to local news reports, after he was seized by a group of armed men who stopped his truck.
Violence against Catholic priests has been on the rise since President Enrique Peña Nieto took power in 2012, according to Mexico’s archdiocese. Omar Sotelo, who works for the Catholic Multimedia Center, said that the jump in violence is “significant” and that priests working in Guerrero state are among the most vulnerable.