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Priest gave general absolution to Mexico City metro victims

Construction crews attend to the collapsed cars of the elevated metro line in Mexico City, May 4, 2021. Credit: Nick_John_07/Shutterstock. Construction crews attend to the collapsed cars of the elevated metro line in Mexico City, May 4, 2021. Credit: Nick_John_07/Shutterstock.

Fr. Juan Ortiz has said he managed to reach the scene of the accident on a metro overpass in Mexico shortly after it occurred Monday evening, giving general absolution to the victims.

“I got as close as I could, at a safe distance, I prayed for the dead, for the injured, and gave general absolution,” he told Desde la Fe, the weekly magazine of the Archdiocese of Mexico.

The elevated metro line, with two passenger cars, fell onto a road May 3. At least 24 people were killed, and more than 70 were injured.

Fr. Ortiz is pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Zapotitlán, located near Tláhuac where the metro wreck occurred.

The Catholic Church allows priests to grant general absolution to the faithful who are “in imminent danger of death and even though a priest or priests are present, they have no time to hear the confession of each penitent.”

Fr. Ortiz said he was paying for his purchase at a nearby supermarket “when the power went out twice. I finished paying and when I left, the street was already closed and patrol cars were there.”

"In fewer than five minutes I came upon the scene," and "could see the dead were being taken out on stretchers.”

Fr. Ortiz said that everyone on the scene "felt hopeless and helpless knowing there were people trapped there; it was quite a spectacle, very shocking."

The priest lamented that the accident was foreseeable, since local residents had reported that the metro structures had been damaged by the earthquakes that struck Mexico in 2017.

Government officials, including president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, promised an in-depth investigation into the causes of the accident.

Bishop Andrés Vargas Peña of Xochimilco prayed for the deceased, injured, and their families and expressed his solidarity with them, offering Mass for the victims the following morning.

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