Less than 10 days after two Jesuit priests were killed in a church in Chihuahua, a Catholic priest from Morelia suffered a vicious beating in the Michoacán municipality of Queréndaro.
The Rev. Mateo Calvillo Paz, a columnist for the newspaper La Voz de Michoacán in addition to his other duties, said he was driving on the highway through Queréndaro last week when the driver of another vehicle blocked his path, removed the priest from his car and “beat him up for no reason,” according to the newspaper La Jornada.
A harrowing picture of his bloody face shortly after the beating was posted on social media. The attack occurred on June 29, which was nine days after two priests, ages 80 and 79, were shot dead in a church in Cerocahui, a town in a region where opium poppies and marijuana are grown.
Calvillo hadn’t filed a formal complaint with Michoacán authorities as of Monday afternoon, but the state’s attorney general, Adrián López Solís, said he had communicated with the priest by telephone and that an investigation is underway.
“We are waiting for him to decide to file the complaint,” López Solís said, refusing to offer any details of the incident. “We have opened an investigation folder and we are ordering protection measures.”
The attacker’s identity and motives remain unknown, Uno TV reported Monday, adding that someone on social media wrote that the priest had run over a dog. “But for Calvillo Paz, the accusation was a pretext to commit the attack that, in three minutes, practically destroyed his face.” The report added that the priest required two days of hospitalization, and that he was transferred from a Queréndaro hospital to one in Morelia “because the bleeding did not stop.” He eventually stabilized and was released.
Calvillo is the head of the Commission for Evangelization on Radio and Television of the Archdiocese of Morelia, a position he has held for a little more than a decade. On occasion, he serves as spokesman for the local archbishop.
In a letter to the media posted on social media; the priest wrote, “I am living an experience that had a tragic, lightning start … Things happened in three minutes. It was a professional attack … The aggressor must have been a hitman, although he did not show me his credentials. A psychopath, he was very tall and strong, dark, with a receding hairline. He had a gun in his fists. He turned to me, he opened the door of my car. He destroyed my face, leaving it with terrible hemorrhages.
“The reason? He was a psychopath, they do not reason or have controls.”
Later, he wrote that he was fortunate to get off with only injuries. “It was very cheap for me, if I think about the fate of the murdered Jesuit brothers and the many deaths and massacres,” he wrote.
“I feel honored to be the brother of the victims of violence, innocents, murdered, wounded, stripped of their belongings, expelled from their towns, of so many reported and unreported deaths, lost children, disappeared or enrolled with drug traffickers and criminals,” he continued. “All the innocents that Andrés Manuel [López Obrador] does not defend because he goes around giving hugs to the murderers and protects the drug traffickers, ‘because they are also human beings.’”
He went to make three points. With the first, he urged people to keep their distance from criminal gangs.
With the second, he wrote, “Value your government! No more theater of politics, with a cult of personality, ideology, propaganda … No more gifts with taxes, no more impunity, etc. etc. The government must fulfill its duty: to protect the life of the citizen and his rights. This affirmation is very serious: The Constitution commands them to the president.”
Finally, he wrote: “Return to God, convert, make him the center of your life. Shall I tell you why? He was with me and saved me. I am a grateful witness of that, and very happy about it.”