Pope shocked by killing of Jesuit priests in Mexico

Pope Francis holds the weekly general audience at the Vatican June 22, 2022. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

VATICAN 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.

"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.

Two of them were Jesuit priests, the same religious order to which the pope belongs.

"I also express my pain and shock over the killing in Mexico the day before yesterday of two religious brothers of mine, Jesuits, and one lay person," Francis said.

"I am close in prayer and affection to the Catholic community hit by this tragedy. Once more I repeat that violence does not resolve problems but increases episodes of suffering," he 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 Jesuits in Mexico, said in a radio interview.

The two priests worked at the church in the small town in the Sierra Tarahumara mountain chain, home to the Raramuri indigenous group and the site of increasing cartel violence.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alison Williams)

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