Here’s a story that needs to be told.
From the BBC:
When Miguel Pantaleon was ordained into the Catholic church last month, it was the biggest day of his young life.
The 28-year-old trainee priest had spent almost a decade working towards joining the clergy. At a packed Mass in his dusty village of Rincon del Carmen in western Mexico, he was officially brought into the priesthood by the diocese bishop.
Watching in the front pew, his mother, Petra Florencio, beamed with pride. Miguel is the 11th of 13 children, and his vocation is a source of great prestige for his family.
However, Petra would also be forgiven for harbouring a few doubts: Miguel has joined the riskiest priesthood in the world.
More than 50 priests have been killed in Mexico since 2006, nine of them under the current administration alone. Some were killed for speaking out against cartel violence, others caught up in the crossfire of an unending conflict between rival criminal organisations.
Almost always, the murders go unpunished and unsolved – the authorities often carrying out only the most cursory of investigations.
Many of the killings took place in the western region of Mexico called Tierra Caliente, where in recent years the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Familia Michoacana gangs have battled for territorial control.
“To me, becoming a priest here in Tierra Caliente signifies love,” Miguel told me after the service. “These are people who live with a lot of pain, hurt and suffering. So, when we respond to God’s call, it’s a sign of His love.”
Miguel studied at a seminary several hours drive into the heart of Tierra Caliente, outside the city of Ciudad Altamirano.
Every morning, as the 18 trainee priests at the seminary gather in the chapel for morning Mass, they walk past a stark reminder of the dangers they’ll face as clergy: the grave of a murdered priest who taught at the seminary.
On a simple granite tombstone, a wrought-iron name plate reads: “Father Habacuc Hernández Benitez, 16 January 1970 – 13 June 2009.”
Father Habacuc – better known as Padre Cuco – is something of a local martyr, a symbol of the many murdered clergymen and seminarians in Mexico.