Bishop Jose Roberto Ospina Leongomez of Buga, Colombia expressed sadness and indignation over the recent murder of one of the priests of his diocese.
According to the Vatican-based Fides news agency, Father Jose Francisco Velez Echeverri was found shot on Jan. 16 on the patio outside his home in Buga, some 250 kilometers from the nation’s capital city of Bogota.
Neighbors reported that they saw a person ride away from the priest’s home on a bike just hours before his body was found. Police suspect the murder could have resulted from a robbery attempt that went awry.
According to parishioners, Fr. Velez Echeverri did not have any enemies and was devoted to social work. His murder caused dismay and profound sadness in the Diocese of Buga.
In 2012, for the fourth consecutive year, America was the continent with the greatest number of murders of priests and lay missionaries.
Bishop Ospina Leongomez thanked the diocese for its solidarity and voiced his “sadness, anger, indignation” and “profound sorrow” over the priest’s killing.
He also decried the “loss of the sense of life and of values that is evidenced in the lack of God and of respect for the human being.”
“Murder will never be accepted for any reason, and the community should be assured that the investigation will continue until the person responsible is found,” the bishop said.
He added that the death of a priest always brings a bishop “deep sadness.”
Bishop Leongomez called on the faithful to pray for their country and for those who do evil and fail to respect life.