We light a candle today as we mourn two Jesuit priests who were murdered inside the Jesuit church, in the village of Cerocahui, Tarahumara, in northern Mexico.

Fr. Javier Campos, SJ, 79, and Fr. Joaquín Mora, SJ, 80, were killed by a gunman on Monday trying to protect a man who ran into the church seeking a place of refuge, allegedly fleeing from the armed man. The church which is central to the village dates back to 1940.

In a statement by the Jesuit Province of Mexico, the provincial Fr. Luis Gerardo Moro Madrid, SJ, announced the murders of the two elderly Jesuits saying “It is with deep pain and a sense of anguish that I inform you that in the afternoon of 20 June, in Cerocahui, Tarahumara, Jesuit Fathers Javier Campos, SJ, and Joaquín Mora, SJ, were murdered while trying to defend a man who was seeking refuge in the church and who was being pursued by an armed person."

During a press conference on Tuesday, President Andrés Manuel López highlighted the tragedy stating that the two Jesuit priests had indeed been killed by a gunman pursuing another man who sought refuge in the church. That man was also killed, the president said.

According to Vatican News, Fr. Madrid also said that the two Jesuits had been working with federal and state authorities for the safety of three other Jesuits: Esteban Cornejo, Jesús Reyes, and Jesús Zaglul; and the pastoral team of the parish. Fr. Madrid condemned the murders, demanding justice and a prompt investigation, he also expressed concern over the safety of the community given the context of streaks of violence that Mexico is experiencing.

“Acts like these are not isolated,” the statement said. “The Tarahumara mountains, like many other regions of the country, face conditions of violence and abandonment that have not been reversed. Every day, men and women are arbitrarily deprived of life, as our murdered brothers were today.”

According to the Guardian, Tarahumara, which is a remote mountainous area in Mexico, has been plagued by violence over the years. Cerocahui is near a point where Chihuahua state meets Sonora and Sinaloa, a major drug-producing region.

Responding to the tragic news the General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa, said "I am shocked and saddened by this news. My thoughts and prayers are with the Jesuits in Mexico and the families of the men. We have to stop violence in our world and so much unnecessary suffering."

The Pope has also decried the surges of violence in Mexico, condemning the murders of the two Jesuits and the lay man, “I express my sorrow and dismay at the killing in Mexico, the day before yesterday, of two religious, Jesuit brothers of mine, and of a layman.” The Pope in grief, expressed concern over the widespread violence that continues to plague Mexico, bringing people suffering and pain over the loss of loved ones. He said, “I am close, with affection and prayer, to the Catholic community affected by this tragedy.” He said, “Once again I repeat that violence does not solve problems but increases unnecessary suffering.”

Join us as we pray for the repose of their souls. May they rest in peace.

Requiem Mass for the departed Jesuits who were killed in Mexico on 20 June 2022. May their souls Rest in Peace. #RIP (Courtesy: AP Photo/Fernando Llano)