Moral Low Ground

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Missing Mexican Priest Gregorio López Gorostieta Found Dead on Christmas

Gregorio López GorostietaA kidnapped priest in the violence-plagued Mexican state of Guerrero was found dead in an alley on Christmas day, the third such killing in the region in 2014.

The Associated Press reports the body of Rev. Gregorio López Gorostieta was found with a gunshot wound to the head.

The motive for the slaying is not yet known. Bishop Maximino Martínez Miranda told reporters that a group had been seen loitering near the seminary where López Gorostieta taught near Ciudad Altamirano, northern Guerrero, on Sunday and Monday. The priest was apparently abducted on Monday. His truck was found abandoned on Wednesday.

Drug cartels and the violence they cause plague Guerrero. Cuidad Altamirano is 180 km (112 miles) west of Iguala, where 43 students at the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College of Ayotzinapa disappeared on September 26.

Mexican authorities say they believe police abducted the students and then handed them over to gang members, who tortured and murdered the victims before burning their bodies and dumping some of them in a river.

López Gorostieta is the second priest from his diocese found murdered since September and the third Guerrero priest killed this year.

Rev. Ascensión Acuña Osorio was found floating dead in the Balsas River near his parish of San Miguel Totolapan, 50 km (31 miles) from Cuidad Altamirano, on September 25. The town is dominated by by the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel, which has been implicated in the kidnapping and murder of the 43 college students.

On November 2, the body of Ugandan priest Father John Ssenyondo was found in a mass grave in Ocotitlán. Ssenyondo was abducted by gunmen in a sport utility vehicle after leaving mass in Santa Cruz on April 30. The mass grave was discovered by federal police as they searched for the missing college students.

Bishop Martínez called for justice for his slain colleagues.

“We are tired of pain and delinquency, injustice and corruption,” he said. “We want the incidents to be clarified, as well as the death of so many people in Guerrero state. We live in a moment of violence.”

“There is a moment when priests come out to reclaim justice for the people, and that perhaps does not please everyone,” Martínez added. “There are many hypotheses. We are leaving this in the hands of the corresponding authorities.”

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