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In Mexico during 2010, more than 1,000 priests were victims of extortion, 162 were threatened with death and two were kidnapped and killed. Kevin Mullins, an Australian-born Columban priest, has personally escaped the violence, but he has been touched by it through the lives of his parishioners at Corpus Christi Church in Ciudad Juárez. During Advent 2008, though, there was a time when parishioners and fellow priests were praying for his soul, thinking he had been killed by drug cartel gunmen. But, Father Mullins explained, “It was actually an Anglican minister who had a heart attack and was found in his car a few blocks away from my house.” In Mexico, the sight of a priest slumped over in a car is not completely unheard of. In 2005, the Rev. Luis Velásquez Romero was found in his vehicle in Tijuana, handcuffed and shot six times, and in 2009 a priest and two seminarians were gunned down in their car. More than 40,000 people, including 12 priests, have been killed since the war against the nation’s drug cartels began in 2006.

Pictured right: Father Wilfrido Mayren Pelaez, director of the peace and reconciliation ministry in the Mexican Archdiocese of Antequera-Oaxaca, is hoping that a change of government in Oaxaca will allow for a thorough investigation into attacks against priests.

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