Bishops, Jesuits, and other religious congregations in Mexico encouraged the faithful to bring photos of victims of violence to churches throughout the country July 24.

In a July 18 message, the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious Orders of Mexico, and the Mexican Province of the Society of Jesus invited people to bring to Catholic churches “photographs of friends or family members who have lost their lives as a result of violence or who are missing.”

“We ask all the priests to offer a special prayer for them, praying for truth and justice, and solace for their families, all of this as a gesture of welcome and remembrance of the suffering of Christ in our country,” they said.

The Mexican bishops, religious superiors, and Jesuits said they were “happy and grateful for the response that the different parish communities, lay movements, and institutes of consecrated life have had in response to the call for the Day of Prayer for Peace.”

They also thanked “the solidarity of other religious traditions and social groups to join this gesture of unity for our country.”

“We are experiencing a time of grace to rebuild our social coexistence so damaged by violence; once again, the Risen Jesus appears to us, when we were confused with the doors locked, to send us out to work for peace,” the religious leaders said.

At the beginning of July, in the midst of the growing violence that recently claimed the lives of two Jesuit priests, the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious Orders of Mexico, and the Mexican Province of the Society of Jesus asked that July be a time of prayer for peace in the country.

As part of that month of prayer, they asked that on July 10 “all the priests, religious men and women who have been murdered in the country” be commemorated at all the Masses and encouraged bringing their photos to Catholic churches.

In their July 18 message, they also asked that July 31, the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, “be a day of prayer for the conversion of the perpetrators and that we are able to do ‘the better politics’ that Pope Francis calls for in Chapter 5 of his encyclical Fratelli Tutti, focused on encounter, dialogue, consensus, and the restoration of the community.”

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Mexico is experiencing one of the most violent periods of its history. In the first three and a half years of the six-year term of current president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, more than 121,000 homicides have been recorded, which could end up exceeding the more than 156,000 murders committed during the entire six-year term of his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto.

From Jan. 1 to July 17 of this year, according to official figures, 14,405 homicides have occurred in Mexico.

The most recent list of the most violent cities in the world, published in March by the Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice, reveals that 18 of the 50 cities on the list are in Mexico. 

The most dangerous city in the world is Zamora in the Mexican state of Michoacán.

The Catholic Church has not been immune to the growing violence in the country. A recent report by the Catholic Multimedia Center showed that in the last 30 years, one cardinal and 57 Catholic priests have been killed in Mexico.

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