Mexico City - The bullet-riddled body of a priest who had disappeared in western Mexico has been found, authorities said Sunday, making him the third cleric murdered this week in the country.
Father Jose Alfredo Lopez Guillen, who had vanished on Monday from his parish house in Janamuato, a village in the troubled state of Michoacan, was found on Saturday night on a parcel of land.
He had bullet wounds and had been dead for 120 hours, the state prosecutor's office said in statement.
"It is with profound sadness that we report that the body of Alfredo Lopez Guillen has been found, let us pray for his soul," tweeted the archdiocese of Morelia, the capital of Michoacan.
Before his death, the Catholic Multimedia Center, which tracks violence against clerics, said 14 priests were murdered in Mexico since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in December 2012.
A 2015 US State Department report on international religious freedom says that US embassy officials had met with Mexican government officials to raise "concerns regarding the deaths of Catholic priests, threats against Catholic nuns, and reported abuses toward evangelical Christians."
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Two other priests, Alejo Nabor Jimenez Juarez and Jose Alfredo Suarez de la Cruz, were found dead on Monday - the same day Guillen went missing - in the eastern state of Veracruz.
Michoacan and Veracruz have endured years of drug cartel violence.
But authorities in Veracruz say the two priests knew their killers and had shared drinks with them before their meeting turned violent, an account that infuriated the Catholic Church.
In Michoacan, Governor Silvano Aureoles said earlier in the week that Lopez Guillen had been with a teenage boy before his disappearance.
But a spokeswoman from the prosecutor's office said the priest had gone home without the boy, who is "doing fine."
The statement said the priest was last seen on Monday night, when he went to a restaurant to order four rations of food that were later delivered to his parish.
The priest was not at the parish on Tuesday and his living quarters were empty when his brothers checked in on Wednesday. His two cars were gone, one of which was found overturned on a road on Tuesday.
Witnesses did not report any changes in the priest's conduct before his disappearance and no ransom was demanded, authorities said.