A Mexican bishop from one of the regions hardest hit by drug trafficking violence recently made a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe basilica in Mexico City and at the feet of the Virgin implored peace.

Cristóbal Ascencio García, the bishop of Apatzingán located in the Mexican state of Michoacán, led the annual diocesan pilgrimage to the Guadalupe basilica on Nov. 8 with the theme “Pilgrims who cry out for peace.” Along with the more than 600 pilgrims who accompanied him, the prelate prayed to God that his cry for peace would reach “up to heaven.”

Apatzingán, a city located about 115 miles southwest of Morelia, the capital of the state of Michoacán, is one of the hardest hit by drug trafficking violence in the region, whose control is disputed by groups such as the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, the Family Michoacana, and the Knights Templar.

Zamora, the second-most violent city in the world in 2022 according to the ranking prepared by the Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice, is located about 100 miles north of Apatzingán. Uruapan, which is ranked seventh, is located about 65 miles to the northeast. The city of Morelia is in 33rd place.

In a Nov. 9 interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner,  Ascencio said: “We greatly need peace in my diocese, because life is becoming impossible for many people and communities.”

The prelate noted that “all bishops” have “the commitment to promote” diocesan pilgrimages to the Guadalupe basilica.

At the beginning of the Mass, Ascencio noted that “rural communities in several parishes are suffering from violence, innocent people suffering and being displaced.”

“We come burdened with all that which we bring to pray for peace. We are pilgrims who ask God for peace: We want peace! So let this cry reach up to heaven and to all of us so that we can collaborate to sow peace in our communities,” he encouraged.

During his homily, Ascencio also prayed for those suffering from insecurity and violence, and for those who in some cases have been displaced from their places of origin.

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“That is why we have come to ask the Virgin to illuminate hearts and give hope to those who are suffering the unspeakable, and to illuminate the hearts of all, so that we may be sowers of peace; and may she illuminate the minds and hearts of those responsible for citizen security,” he said.

The next day the pilgrims from the Diocese of Apatzingán visited the Shrine of Christ the King on Cerro del Cubilete in the Mexican state of Guanajuato.

The pilgrimage concludes on Nov. 10 with a Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan de Los Lagos in the state of Jalisco.

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