Mexican bishops demand action from government as another missing priest turns up dead

Catholic bishops in Mexico have demanded action from authorities after another priest went missing on Jan. 3 and turned up dead days later in the town of Parras de Fuente.

(REUTERS / Tomas Bravo)The letter 'Z' is seen painted on a hill next to the toll booth at the freeway between Monterrey and Torreon, in the Mexican state of Coahuila March 13, 2010.

In a statement, the Saltillo Diocese in Coahuila state said authorities disclosed the discovery of Rev. Joaquin Hernandez Sifuentes' dead body on Thursday in northern Mexico. No other information regarding the case was released by the diocese, ABC News reports.

"Father Joaquin was someone who looked for perfection in everything he did," the diocese said in a statement. "The desire to always innovate in his work has been reflected in love by the faithful, including during the past 10 days."

When Sifuentes was still missing, the Mexican Council of Bishops asked authorities to search for him. The Associated Press notes that Coahuila has been beset by drug cartel violence, but it is still unclear if the situation has something to do with the priest's disappearance.

Rev. Sifuentes was supposed to go on vacation on Jan. 3. A neighbor witnessed two young men take his car on the same day, but Sifuentes was reportedly not with them.

A close friend said the priest could not be contacted via phone on that day. When he went to Sifuentes' residence at the church, he found that the priest's room was a mess but his suitcase and glasses were still there. According to the diocese, this was unusual because Sifuentes was a very neat person.

According to the Coahuila state Prosecutor's Office, Rev. Sifuentes' body was discovered in Parras de Fuente. His car, on the other hand, was found in Santa Catarina in the state of Nuevo Leon. Authorities have yet to confirm the priest's cause of death.

Father Sifuentes is the latest Roman Catholic priest who was attacked in Mexico in the last several months. Since 2006, at least 31 priests in the country have been killed. Last year, three were kidnapped in Veracruz, but one was rescued alive while two were found dead.