Report: 1 cardinal and 57 priests killed in the last 30 years in Mexico

Bible Credit: Grant Whitty / Unsplash

A report by the Mexican Catholic Multimedia Center (CCM) shows that from 1990 to 2022, the violence in Mexico has claimed the lives of one cardinal and 57 priests.

The document also notes that in the first three and a half years of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s six-year term, seven priests have been murdered in the country.

In perhaps the most shocking case, the archbishop of Guadalajara, Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo, was gunned down at the city airport on May 24, 1993.

“The official thesis at that time was that the cardinal was ‘confused’ with a high-ranking organized crime boss; however, some sources point out that the latest investigations agree with Cardinal Sandoval Iñiguez that it was a ‘homicide by state,’” the CCM report states.

In a May 2016 video message, Sandoval, the archbishop emeritus of Guadalajara, said that according to information he has, the killing was orchestrated by the director of the Federal Judicial Police, who in turn got his orders from the attorney general. The case remains unsolved.

The CCM director, Father Omar Sotelo, said that the report, which can be accessed on the center’s website, is a way of collaborating “with the initiative for the (July 10) Day for Prayer for Peace in Mexico” called by the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious of Mexico, and the Mexican Province of the Society of Jesus.

Church leaders have asked that “all the priests, religious men and women who have been murdered in the country be remembered” in all the Masses to be celebrated on July 10.

They also encouraged the faithful that “as a prophetic sign of our Church, in the Eucharist on July 31 we pray for the victimizers, we pray for their lives and the conversion of their hearts, we extend our hand to receive them with a repentant heart into the house of God.”

In a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency, Sotelo noted that “this invitation to the Day for Peace in Mexico is a great opportunity that all Mexicans have, not only in the Catholic Church, but each and every one, to fellowship, to join together and, in one way or another, weave these bridges that can help us fight against this violence.”

The violence Mexico is currently experiencing, he said, “comes precisely from dehumanization. There’s nothing else, there’s no other word: it comes from the dehumanization of the human being, from that indifference.”

“I think this is precisely the product of many years in which we have left adrift men, women, especially young people, who have been recruited by organized crime,” he lamented.

The Mexican priest stressed that “today the Church joins together to pray for the victims, but also for the perpetrators. Today the Church joins together to pray for those people who have disappeared, and for those who abducted them.”

“Today the Church opens and has the great opportunity to invite all human beings, all Mexicans, to contribute to peace, which comes from forgiveness, which comes from love and comes from the re-humanization of human beings,” he said.

“I believe that this is the most important thing and it’s the great opportunity that we have as a society to face this deplorable scourge that we are experiencing,” the priest said.

In just three and a half years of the López Obrador administration, more than 121,000 homicides have been recorded in the country, which is on track to exceed the more than 156,000 murders committed during the six-year term his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto.

From Jan. 1 to July 7 of this year, according to official figures, 13,679 homicides have occurred in Mexico.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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