Priest, 69, Shot Dead in Guatemala

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GUATEMALA CITY, DEC. 16, 2003 (Zenit.org).- A Guatemalan priest was shot and killed by unknown gunmen on Sunday near the Santo Cura de Ars church where he resided.



Police reports said that Father José María Ruiz, known as "Padre Chemita," was shot as he was going to the parish house, located in a poor and dangerous area of the capital.

Shortly after the murder, Cardinal Rodolfo Quezada Toruño went to the scene of the crime.

"It is an absurd crime and it shows us the high levels of violence in which Guatemala lives," the archbishop of Guatemala said. "I hope this crime will not go unpunished, as many others."

Father Ruiz, 69, was well known for his social work. After he stood as a candidate for the mayoralty of Guatemala City, and entered as a partner in hotel enterprises, he was suspended from his priestly ministry, as stipulated by canon law. The canonical measure was removed in 1999 at his request after he withdrew from these activities.