DENVER — In a statement released July 20, the Jesuits in Mexico decried impunity in the country and demanded justice one month after the murder of two of their priests and two laymen in the town of Cerocahui in the state of Chihuahua.

“One month after the grievous murder of our brothers Javier Campos and Joaquín Mora and two laymen in Cerocahui, Chihuahua, the Society of Jesus in Mexico continues to demand justice,” the Mexican Province of the Society of Jesus said in their statement.

“We are convinced that if impunity prevails — as it has until now — it will not be possible to move toward reconciliation and peace,” they said.

On June 20, Jesuit priests Javier Campos Morales and Joaquín César Mora Salazar were gunned down in a church in Cerocahui for trying to protect a man who was seeking refuge after being chased by an armed man. The man being pursued was also killed.

In their statement, the Mexican Jesuits said that during the month of July they had “expressed to the authorities in the different levels of government that it is a priority for the Society of Jesus to guarantee the rights of the Rarámuri communities,” also known as Tarahumaras, indigenous peoples of Chihuahua.

“The attention that this deplorable event that shook the country has generated in the region cannot be circumstantial: the structural causes of violence in the Sierra, which have prevailed for decades, must be reversed,” the Society of Jesus stressed.

Chihuahua is one of the states most controlled by drug traffickers, and since the Sierra Tarahumara is mainly populated by the indigenous, they are those most affected by the violence. Priests, as part of the community, are also affected by the violence and the drug traffickers’ control of the region and because of their leadership role can be prime targets of the violence.

Given the lack of a state government presence in the region, the Jesuits believe that it’s “indispensable that federal forces continue to be present on a provisional basis, with the appropriate protocols to interact with indigenous cultures and ensuring unrestricted respect for human rights, until the conditions of peace are rebuilt in the communities of the Tarahumara.”

For the Society of Jesus in Mexico, “the untimely murder” of two of their Jesuit brothers “refers back to the experience of so many victims of violence who continue to wait for justice and truth in our suffering Mexico.”

“The memory of our beloved Joaquín and Javier, of the other victims of Cerocahui, and of so many people in mourning who don’t get the same attention in Mexico, call us to not give in to impunity and to work for the reconstruction of the social fabric,” they said.

“We know that on this path we will continue to concur with thousands of Mexican men and women who yearn for a country with peace, justice, dignity and human rights,” they concluded.