Tampico, Mexico, Apr 1, 2017 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A priest in Mexico's state of Tamaulipas who had been abducted earlier this week was freed on Thursday after media pressure on the case. Fr. Oscar López Navarro, a member of the Missionaries of Christ the Mediator, was kidnapped March 28 as he was arriving at his parish of St. Joseph the Worker in Altamira, fewer than 20 miles north of Tampico.

Bishop José Luis Dibildox Martínez of Tampico told news outlets that Fr. López, 40, had been followed by the criminals, and when he arrived in his car at the church he was kidnapped as he soon as he opened the vehicle's door. The priest was released the morning of March 30. Fr. Servando Nieto, a fellow member of the Missionaries of Christ the Mediator, indicated that media pressure in wake of the kidnapping contributed to his release.

“A great deal of solidarity was felt from the various dioceses in the country and from the media, which showed a lot of interest in the case,” he said, according to Archdiocese of Mexico. Fr. Nieto also explained that those in charge of the negotiations were two religious from the Missionaries of Christ the Mediator.

“Fr. Oscar is well, we're all well,” he said, adding that it is now important that Fr. López have a chance to settle down after his ordeal so he can continue to carry out his work, but especially “to give thanks to God because he has been freed and to thank all the people for their financial support and for their prayers.”

The Mexican bishops' conference expressed their joy “for the safe liberation and the health of Fr.  Oscar López Navarro …. We lament that as a society we continue to be affected by violence. We thank everyone for their prayers, solidarity, and closeness.”

Bishop Dibildox told media that Fr. López' kidnapping was “the first time this has happened in the Diocese of Tampico.” Drug trafficking has led to increased murder and kidnapping in Mexico, with priests not unaffected. In recent years, 17 priests in the country have been murdered. And Tamaulipas, a border state with the United States, is the base of operations for the Gulf Cartel, which organizes drug trafficking, protection rackets, murder, extortion, and kidnapping.