AMERICA/PARAGUAY - Priest found dead in his home, signs of struggle

Villarrica (Agenzia Fides) - Bishop Julio César Alvarez, had been pastor of the parish "Sagrado Corazón de Jesús" for two years in Villarrica, 150 km from Asunción, he was murdered at his home in the early hours of April 14. His lifeless body was in his room in the morning, he had been strangled and there were traces of a fight. His hands and feet were tied. There were several shots in the head , injuries and scratches. While authorities are conducting investigations to identify the reasons of the crime and the guilty, it is possible that the priest was the victim of a series of thefts that had occurred in the parishes of Villarrica in recent months, as the Bishop pointed out in an interview on the local radio. The day before the priest had withdrawn a sum of money to buy a car.
In the statement issued by the Episcopal Conference, which was received by Fides, reads: "The Paraguayan Episcopal Conference expresses its deepest condolences to the Bishop of the Diocese of Villarrica del Espiritu Santo, Bishop Ricardo Valenzuela Rios, to the clergy, religious, and the faithful for Father Julio Cesar Alvarez`s death, pastor of the parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Villarrica and at the same time elevates prayers so that the merciful Lord welcomes him into his holy habitation. It also requests that the competent authorities look into the case for the immediate clarification of the circumstances of his death".
Bishop Julio César Alvarez, 47, was ordained priest in 1989. He held various positions including: Trainer at the Major Seminary, Chancellor, Head of the team of diocesan vocations, professor of theology at the Catholic University. From 1994 to 2005 he was Secretary of Nunziatura in Korea, Syria and Cuba. He then was Parish Priest, Assistant to the Christian Family Movement, and from 2009, parish priest of the "Sagrado Corazón de Jesús" in Villarrica. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 15/04/2011)

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