Salem Radio Network News Sunday, June 26, 2022

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Pope shocked by killing of Jesuit priests in Mexico, suspect named

VATICAN CITY/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Pope Francis on Wednesday condemned the killing of two Jesuit priests and a lay person in Mexico, saying it was a shocking reminder of the level of violence in the country, as Mexican authorities launched a search for the murder suspect.

“So many killings in Mexico,” Francis said at the end of his general audience for thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.

The state prosecutor’s office in Chihuahua, along the U.S. border, said three people were killed in the town of Cerocahui after a man took refuge in a church to protect himself from an attack.

The Chihuahua state prosecutor’s office named Jose Noriel Portillo Gil as a suspect in the murders and offered a reward of five million pesos, or nearly $250,000, for information related to his whereabouts. The Chihuahua government said in 2018 that Portillo was involved in the drug trade.

Portillo is also the prime suspect in the 2018 murder of American teacher Patrick Braxton-Andrews, authorities said.

The bodies of the three were taken away by a group of men in the back of a pickup truck, Luis Gerardo Moro, head of the religious order in Mexico, said in a radio interview Tuesday. Two of them were Jesuit priests, the same religious order to which the pope belongs.

The killings followed the kidnapping of four tourists at a nearby hotel, authorities told Reuters. One of the missing is the wife of one of the murder victims, according to Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who also expressed his condolences.

Ricardo Palma, the son of the lay person reported as dead along with the Jesuit priests, said in a radio interview that his father, a tour guide, may still be alive.

Palma added that the prosecutor apologized to him Wednesday after authorities reported his father’s death without having all the evidence on hand.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella in Vatican City and Kylie Madry and Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico City; Editing by Alison Williams and Alistair Bell)

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