The Mexican bishops called on government leaders to find a comprehensive solution to the violence that is afflicting the country, especially in the drug-laden state of Michoacan.

In a statement issued Jan. 21 by the executive committee of the Mexican Bishops' Conference, the prelates urged authorities to bring to an end "the violence that is afflicting so many persons and families, so that citizens can live in peace, which is their right."

They also recognized "the great and courageous efforts" of bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful to contribute to bringing about peace.

Quoting a recent pastoral letter by Bishop Miguel Patino Velazquez of Apatzingan in the state of Michoacan, the bishops said that the people "expect more effective action from the State against those who are provoking this chaos."

They called on "politicians, the government and the Secretary of the Interior" to "give to the people of our region clear signs that they truly want to stop the killing machine."

"For our part," the bishops continued, "we reiterate the Catholic Church's commitment and willingness to continue collaborating with pastoral care for the victims of violence and in the rebuilding of the social fabric by supporting a culture of respect for the rule of law and for peace."

Confrontations between citizen militia groups and the Knights Templar drug cartel have continued in Michoacan despite the deployment of 4,800 federal police and 4,500 soldiers in the region.

Located on the Pacific coast of Mexico, Michoacan is used by drug traffickers to produce synthetic drugs and to grow marijuana and opium. From there, the drugs are exported to other countries.

According to the newspaper Cambio, officials from the Mexican Justice Department stated that "the Templars have dominated the production of methamphetamines in the country since 2009 because they own that territory. They forged alliances with other groups in order to distribute their produce at the international level as well."

Citizen militia groups have been fighting back against the cartels since 2013 to drive them out of the areas where they have become entrenched.