Church in Mexico announces plan to accompany mothers of disappeared persons

Bishop Francisco Javier Acero Bishop Francisco Javier Acero with the mothers of the disappeared and priests. | Credit: Photo courtesy of Bishop Acero

Faced with the lamentable growing wave of disappeared persons in Mexico and with it the formation of groups — primarily mothers looking for their missing children — the Primatial Archdiocese of Mexico is preparing a pastoral plan to accompany them.

In Latin America to say someone “was disappeared” means that the person was abducted, often by organized crime, an authoritarian government, or a rebel group and may or may not be alive.

In a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Francisco Javier Acero, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Mexico, explained that they are “making a small-scale pastoral plan” for mothers of disappeared persons and that it would also be open in the future to the entire community through the Mexican Bishops’ Conference.

The prelate, who advocated “having at least one Mass dedicated to the disappeared,” said that the pastoral plan is “within the socio-charitable dimension of justice and peace.”

It is increasingly common for mothers to hold different demonstrations to protest the disappearance of their children, demanding that the authorities solve the cases and punish those responsible.

According to the organization Movement for Our Disappeared Persons in México, which was created in 2015, in the country there are more than 60 groups of relatives seeking to enforce the Law of Disappearance, which went into effect in January 2018, to find the whereabouts of their missing relatives.

According to this movement, the objective of the law is the creation of a national system for the search, investigation, and identification of disappeared persons at the federal and state levels.

According to an activities report of the National Human Rights Commission, “the disappearance of persons, including forced disappearance, constitutes a multi-offensive violation of human rights, since in addition to causing irreparable harm to the victims, it causes their families to suffer.” 

The report notes that for family members, not knowing the whereabouts of their relatives creates fear and uncertainty in addition to financial loss, as well as loss of physical and mental health.

According to data from the National Search Commission, in the first four years of the six-year term of the current president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, 9,284 missing and unlocated people have been recorded, 27.69% more than in 2018, the last year of the term of his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto.

According to the website of the Ministry of the Interior, from Jan. 1, 1962, to July 31, 2023, there are 110,988 missing and unlocated people. Just from Jan. 1 to July 31 this year there are 6,770 disappeared persons.

Disappearances in Mexico are related to various problems, such as drug trafficking, impunity, corruption, and human trafficking.

Bishop Acero explained that “at the pastoral level we have to create listening centers and at the same time lead them to prayer, Masses, the sacraments, mainly the Eucharist.”

He also suggested posting in some strategic place in the parishes the names of the disappeared “so that every time we enter the church and see those names, we remember them and their families.”

The prelate also said the archdiocese held a Mass with the mothers of the disappeared on June 18. Since then, there have been several meetings and an agenda is going to be created to determine a pastoral plan.

Acero said meeting with these mothers has been an edifying experience: “I take to myself the mothers’ fight for the lives of their children, even if they do not know where they are, even if they are dead, and their faith, because it is the only thing that sustains them, faith.”

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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