Paramilitary group gives ultimatum to Catholic parish in Rio de Janeiro

.- The armed group that controls an infamous slum in Rio de Janeiro gave an ultimatum this week to the archdiocese, demanding that it close down a parish and its community assistance center because the pastor refuses to pay the extortion the group is demanding.

The armed group controls the area known as Jacarepagua, where the parish of Our Lady of Loretto is located.

The leader of the group, which fights with drug traffickers for control of the area, gave an ultimatum to Father Luis Antonio, pastor of Our Lady of Loretto, to leave the parish by May 5.

I don’t know what the motive is behind the ultimatum, but the truth is the Church does not make agreements with these groups,” the priest said, adding that he has no intention of leaving the parish.

According to the Brazilian daily, “O Dia,” paramilitary groups control more than 500 neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro, claiming they are combating the drug traffickers. As a result of the deep corruption in the police force, the armed groups were at first welcomed as liberators from the drug traffickers, but now they have set up a “mafia-style” system of extortion, charging for supposed protection.

“The vigilantes have become new form of intolerable abuse,” Father Luis Antonio stated.