The body of Father Lazzaro Longobardi, 69, was discovered by a parishioner on Monday morning in the churchyard of St Joseph’s church in the town of Cassano allo Ionio, Il Messaggero reported.
The newspaper said Father Longobardi, who was a priest at a church in the nearby hamlet of Lattughelle, had been making his way to his car when he was killed.
His body was lying on top of an iron bar, while car keys and driver documents were found close by.
Police believe he was killed several hours earlier and possibly by someone close to him. Father Longobardi is reported to have recently told police that an acquaintance kept asking him for money.
The murder happened in the same town where the bodies of three people, including a three-year-old girl, were found in a burnt-out car in January.