MEXICO CITY (CNS) – An outspoken priest who had been reported missing in the state of Veracruz was found alive, but with signs of torture.
Father Jose Luis Sanchez Ruiz, pastor of Twelve Apostles parish in Catemaco – a town known for witchcraft, some 340 miles southeast of Mexico City – was reported missing Nov. 11, sparking unrest and the ransacking and burning of the city hall by residents impatient with the police response.
A statement from the Diocese of San Andres Tuxtla said Father Sanchez was found “abandoned” Nov. 13 “with notable signs of torture.”
Father Aaron Reyes Natividad, diocesan spokesman, told local media that Father Sanchez had received threats via WhatsApp and Facebook, while the doors to the church also appear to have been opened with force. He denounced crime and corruption in Veracruz – where a former governor is currently on the lam for funneling millions of dollars of state money into shell companies – and also rallied residents against high electric bills.
“He was nervous, but nothing stopped him,” Father Reyes said.
“We think that a lot of what happened has to do with what the padre said in his sermons,” Father Reyes said. “He gave the names of those responsible for insecurity, stealing from the community and generating poverty.”
The abduction and torture of Father Sanchez marked another case of clergy coming under attack in Mexico, where at least 15 priests have been murdered in the past four years, according to the Centro Catolico Multimedial. Many of the investigations in the killings have left church officials unhappy, but reflective of a country in which nearly 94 percent of crimes go unreported or uninvestigated.