BY AURORA OROZCO | EL NUEVO HERALDO

Mexican police are trying to find out who stabbed a priest to death inside a church in Matamoros Thursday night.

The state prosecutor’s office confirmed the death of Father Jose Martín Guzmán Vega in the community of Santa Adelaida.

The religious news agency Centro Católico Multimodal reported neighbors heard cries for help from inside the parish of Cristo Rey de la Paz around 10 p.m. and when they got to the church they found the priest seriously injured.

He was taken to an Alfredo Pumarejo General Hospital in Matamoros where he later died.

Father Guzman was 55 years old and originally from Michoacan.

Bishop Eugenio Lira of the Diocese of Matamoros issued a statement on Friday.

“ With deep pain we mourn the unfortunate death of the José Martín Guzmán Vega. Police have begun the investigation to find those responsible and bring justice,” the statement read.

Last year, Bishop Lira announced a plan called “Safe Church for All” to protect Catholics in the diocese given the state of violence in Tamaulipas.

The murder of Father Guzman is the first of a Catholic priest this year in Mexico. Altogether the Centro Católico Multimodal says 27 religious people have been killed since 2012.

Earlier this month an evangelical pastor in Nuevo Laredo was kidnapped. Aaron Mendez ran a shelter for migrants in the city and has not been seen since Aug. 3.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.