Vatican City, Jun 22, 2022 / 06:35 am (CNA).
Pope Francis said Wednesday he is mourning the death of two Jesuit priests who were killed in Mexico this week.
"I also express my sorrow and dismay at the killing in Mexico the day before yesterday of two Jesuit religious, my brothers, and a layman," the pope said on June 22 in St. Peter's Square.
"How many killings in Mexico," he said before thousands of pilgrims. "I am close with affection and prayer to the Catholic community affected by this tragedy. Once again, I repeat that violence does not solve problems, but increases unnecessary suffering."
The Jesuits of Mexico announced Tuesday that two of their priests were killed on June 20 inside a church in a mountainous region of Chihuahua state.
Fathers Javier Campos Morales and Joaquín César Mora Salazar had served as Jesuit priests for nearly a century combined. The gunmen who carried out the June 20 attack on the church in Cerocahui, Chihuahua also took their bodies.
According to the Chihuahua State Attorney General's Office, both priests tried to protect a person who sought refuge in the church while being chased by at least one other man, both armed, El Sol de Mexico newspaper reported. The chaser reportedly shot and killed all three men.
Luis Gerardo Moro Madrid SJ, Provincial of the Jesuits of Mexico, condemned the killings and said they are "working with the federal and state authorities to ensure the safety" of the parish's two remaining priests.
Pope Francis expressed his sorrow at the death of the priests in an appeal at the end of his Wednesday general audience.
He also said he is praying for victims of a powerful earthquake in Afghanistan, which struck just after 1:30 a.m. local time on Wednesday.
At least 920 people have been killed, and hundreds injured, according to Taliban officials, the BBC reported.
"In the past few hours, an earthquake has claimed lives and caused extensive damage in Afghanistan," Pope Francis said.
"I express my sympathy to the injured and those affected by the earthquake and pray especially for those who lost their lives and their families," he said. "I hope that with everyone's help, the suffering of the dear people of Afghanistan can be alleviated."