By Linda Bordoni
SAN SALVADOR/VATICAN CITY (BosNewsLife)– The Catholic Church in El Salvador says a notorious criminal gang has killed priest Cecilio Perez Cruz because he refused to pay ‘protection fees.’ In response, the government was quick to announce new measures to fight criminality.


Perez, 38, was reportedly shot dead by a presumed gang member while he slept on Saturday night, May 18, in his parish in San José la Majada, in Sosonate Diocese near the Guatemala border.

His body, with three bullet wounds, was reportedly found in his room by a group of faithful who had agreed to meet him at 5 am for morning prayers. Besides his body was a hand-written note signed by the Mara Salvatrucha gang saying “he did not pay the rent.”

The Bishop of Sonsonate, Constantino Barrera, asked for prayers and expressed his grief. He also praised the work the priest had done with his parishioners saying “he was close to the people.”


The Government of El Salvador condemned the murder and expressed its condolences to the priest’s family and the Catholic community.

In a statement, it also said new orders had been issued to security forces to make sure the priest’s killers face justice.

El Salvador is one of the most violence-prone countries in the world.

The official murder rate last year in the Central American country was 50.3 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, or 9.2 murders a day.


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