.- Archbishop Jose Luis Chavez Botello of Antequera-Oaxaca reaffirmed this week the neutrality of the Church in the political crisis that has shaken the southern region of Mexico and said his talks with key players in the conflict should not be interpreted as endorsement of the positions of any one side.
During Mass on Sunday the archbishop read a statement in which he again called on the parties involved to resolve the conflict peacefully. The means for achieving an agreement, he said, “will never be weapons or attacks, but rather authentic service and brotherly regard for all.”
“Out of fidelity to her mission, the Church will never take sides with any of the parties involved in the conflict. We are aware that only this way will our service as facilitators be trusted and effective. We will continue to support everything that leads to a coming together, to dialogue, to a lessening of the violence and to opting for a peaceful and responsible solution for the good of society and not only of certain groups,” the archbishop said.
The Oaxaca conflict started as a teachers' strike for higher pay. It expanded into a fight to oust Gov. Ulises Ruiz, with leftist protesters seizing the city center, building barricades, burning buses and seizing radio stations to call for revolution.
In his statement Archbishop Chavez also said the Church would not provide asylum to leaders of the Oaxaca People's Assembly, who are responsible for protests of recent weeks. “We do not have either the resources or the infrastructure to guarantee the physical integrity of such persons,” he explained.
Such guarantees, he emphasized, are the responsibility of the government.