.- Organized crime is punishing Mexico “like a whip,” Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera said in response to a shocking attack on a Monterrey casino which killed at least 53 people.
The Archbishop of Mexico City condemned the attack on the Casino Royale, where gunmen killed gamblers and employees. Many died when the attackers spread gasoline and ignited a fire that trapped and killed them.
It was the second attack on the casino in three months. Gunmen sprayed the building with bullets in a May 25 attack that did not injure anyone.
Attorney General Leon Adrian de la Garza said a drug cartel was apparently responsible for the attack, the Associated Press reports. Cartels often extort casinos and other business and threaten to attack them if they refuse to pay.
The Archdiocese of Mexico City has repeatedly denounced the violence affecting Mexico and the threats from armed groups.
A recent editorial in the archdiocesan weekly Desde La Fe noted that many priests live under the “constant threat” of drug cartels because they work within organizations that defend human rights or they denounce the abuses, crimes and drug dealers.
In 2009 a Catholic priest and two seminarians were murdered while leaving a church in southern Mexico. They had denounced drug dealers’ violence against the faithful.
The Mexican clergy is more exposed in rural areas where drug cartels are in control and the Mexican government fails to enforce the law.
Manuel Corral, secretary for public relations for the Mexican Episcopal Conference, told Desde La Fe that at least 1,000 of Mexico’s 15,000 priests have been indirectly threatened and at least 300 have received direct threats.
The archdiocese asked the faithful to pray for those who have died because of violence.