American priest dies tortured in Mexico

world | Aug 07, 2007 | By Martin Barillas

Catholic Church authorities in Mexico, as well as the Congregation of Missionary Oblates of Mary the Immaculate and devout Mexicans are roundly condemning Mexican media coverage of the unsolved death Catholic priest Richard Junius Sander, a US citizen. Reverend Sander was killed, according to members of his congregation, because of his opposition to the corruption of minors in his parish area.


Reverend Sander was found bound at the hands and feet and strangled in his residence in Mexico City. Firemen had been called to his parish after having received a report that one of the church's sacred images was burning.


Mexican media have released reports that have raised speculation about "acts of sexual misconduct" on the part of the silenced priest that have been roundly denounced by his parishioners as well as the Oblates.


Reverend Vicente Louwagie, as well as the fallen priest's parish council, issued a joint statement expressing their "indignation at the morbid and perverse manipulation of information in which some journalists have engaged regarding the violent death of Reverend Richard Junius Sander." According to the statement "His daily behaviour has much more weight than the infamous comments by those who besmirch him and create a twisted image of him through the use of photographs that reveal nothing more than criminal torture before his death."


The letter further explains that "the priest was tortured and murdered in revenge for having reported to authorities the abuses on the part of a center of vice where alcohol was served to minors just a block away from the church". Furthermore, the letter said "We reject therefore any theories or speculations until such time as the Attorney General of Mexico issues the last word on this cowardly crime and that those responsible are in prison even though they may be police authorities". Moreover, the letter praised the priest's "constant work on behalf of the poor and the community".


Reverend Richard Junius Sander, 76, was well-respected in the Mexican capital. During his many years of missionary service, he founded parishes in the poorest neighborhoods in Mexico City. He was also host of the show "Principles" on Mariavision on Mexican TV. He also frequently celebrated Mass in English at St. Patrick's Church near the American School of Mexico City.



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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