CEROCAHUI, Mexico (AP) — Two Jesuit priests killed last week in remote mountains of northern Mexico were expected to be buried Monday in the village where a gunman attacked them inside the church.
The Revs. Javier Campos, 79, and Joaquín Mora, 80, had spent much of their lives serving Indigenous Raramuri people of the region. On Sunday, their friends, colleagues and parishioners mourned the priests’ return to Cerocahui in wooden caskets.
Last Monday, a local crime boss pursuing a tourist guide who sought refuge in the church facing Cerocahui’s central square, killed the guide and the two priests. Their bodies were initially taken by their attacker, but were recovered days later.
The attack has drawn strong criticism from the Roman Catholic church to Mexico’s security situation and the federal government’s strategy.
Organized crime has a firm hold on communities in the Tarahumara mountains of Chihuahua state, where they grow marijuana and opium poppy. Colleagues said Campos and Mora provided a moral balance in the marginalized communities controlled by gunmen.
In a Mass Saturday for the priests in the state capital Chihuahua, Rev. Javier Ávila, referenced President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s saying of “hugs not bullets,” lamented that “there aren’t enough hugs anymore to cover the bullets.”
From there, the caskets made their way up the winding roads into the mountains where the priests had worked for decades among the impoverished Raramuri. They were to buried later Monday in Cerocahui.