Vatican News reports that Father Cecilio Perez Cruz had reportedly refused to pay ‘protection fees’ to a well-known criminal gang. Rev. Cruz was 38 years old when he was shot dead by a gang member as he slept in the parish rectory. The shooting occurred on Saturday, May 18, 2019 in the night in El Salvador. Father Perez was the parish priest of San José la Majada, in Sosonate Diocese near the Guatemala border. His body had three bullet wounds, and was found in his room by a group of parishioners who had agreed to meet him at 5am for morning prayers. Besides his body was a hand-written note signed by the Mara Salavatrucha gang saying “he did not pay the rent.” The Bishop of Sonsonate, Constantino Barrera, who has asked for prayers for Father Perez, expressed his grief and praised the work the priest was doing with his parishioners saying he was close to the people. Government response The Government of El Salvador condemned the murder and expressed its condolences to the priest’s family and to the Catholic community. In a statement it also said new orders have been issued to security forces to make sure the priest’s killers are brought to justice.
The murder rate last year in the Central American country of El Salvador was 50.3 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, or 9.2 murders a day. (Fr. Cecilio is pictured at front left in the picture)
Edited from Vatican News and El Salvador Times
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