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Priest murdered by unknown armed movement in Colombia

Bishop Flavio Calle Zapata of Sonson-Rionegro has condemned the murder of a local parish priest and demanded authorities to determine which armed group operating in the region is responsible for his death.

Catholic World News reports that last Thursday, Fr Leonardo Anselmo Alzate, parish priest of Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish, was forced to leave his home by a group of masked men and taken away in his own car.

The body of Father Alzate, 43, was found on Friday on the outskirts of the city of Sonson. The priest, born in the region, was ordained 17 years ago and had served as pastor for four.

The funeral, held on Monday, was attended by hundreds of priests and several bishops of the region, including Archbishop Antonio Giraldo Jaramillo of Medellin, president of the Colombian Bishops' Conference.

"We call all groups to stop the violence against the Colombian people, especially against those whose only 'crime' is to love and defend their people," said Bishop Calle Zapata.

Archbishop Giraldo Jaramillo said, "The Catholic Church insists on the need to stop the spiral of violence and start serious peace negotiations.

Although two left-wing guerrilla groups and one paramilitary organization operate in the area of Sonson, none of them have claimed responsibility for the murder.