“It is with great sadness and pain that we mourn Father Javier Campos Morales, Father Joaquin Mora Salazar, and the man who, unfortunately, lost his life along with them,” the Diocese of the Tarahumara region of Western Chihuahua said Tuesday.
The region borders Texas and New Mexico.
The priests were shot dead in the church “with no defense but their faith in God,” as they tried to protect a man whose life was in danger, the statement read.
The shooters took all three bodies, which officials are working to locate, according to a report.
Officials learned of the slaughter after receiving an emergency call around 6:00 p.m. on Monday, the report noted.
“The state government laments and condemns these violent actions in which two priests became circumstantial victims,” state police said.
The Mexican armed forces, state agencies, and local agencies are working to find those responsible, but no suspects have been identified.
A regional cartel leader is reportedly believed to be connected to the event.
“Amid so much death and crime in our country, we publicly condemn this tragedy and demand a prompt investigation and security for the community and all the priests in the country,” the Catholic Diocese of Juarez said in a statement.