Skip to comments.Mexico Church seeks protection after drug threats
Posted on 04/23/2009 9:13:08 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
MEXICO CITY Mexico's influential Roman Catholic Church is seeking protection for its priests who fear they will be targeted in drug violence, a document said Thursday, after an archbishop said "everybody knows" where the nation's most-wanted trafficker lives.
Amid almost daily drug attacks, in which more than 7,000 have died since the start of last year, the archbishop of the northern state of Durango said last week that the alleged leader of the powerful Sinaloa cartel lived in his state, and "everybody knows it except the authorities."
The comments, for which Archbishop Hector Gonzalez Martinez quickly apologized, sparked fear among the region's clergy.
"In various parts of the country (priests) have been intimidated or threatened in relation to the growing wave of violence," said a document from the Archdiocese of Mexico Thursday.
"The Church is obliged to raise its voice against those criminals who damage society while priests and soldiers risk their lives amid impunity," said the document.
Soldiers and police are key targets amid a Mexican government crackdown on drug trafficking and related violence launched more than two years ago, involving more than 36,000 troops.
The church leadership said that Gonzalez Martinez said he knew the location of famed fugitive drug trafficker Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman because he had been "thinking of the safety of priests."
Rumors on the location of Guzman, who escaped from prison in 2001 and was named on the latest Forbes list of the world's richest people, have pointed to locations across the country, especially in the northern areas renowned for drug trafficking activity.
The federal prosecutor said via a representative in Durango that he had "no sign" of the presence of the cartel leader in that state.
After the archbishop's statement, two soldiers were found killed Wednesday in Durango, alongside notes referring to "El Chapo," according to media reports.
Some 300 priests have abandoned their churches due to threats in recent years, according to opposition senator Fernando Castro Trenti.
Three priests were assassinated in Mexico in 2007, according to El Observador Catholic website.
On the other hand, the president of the Mexican Bishop's Conference Carlos Aguilar Retes admitted a year ago that drug traffickers were "very generous" with the towns they operated in and that some even contributed to chapel building.
Gunmen linked to drug traffickers shot dead Roman Catholic Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo at an airport in May 1993.
Mexico's papal nuncio said later that he had met with members of the Arellano Felix drug cartel who confessed to killing the cardinal by error, and that their target had been Guzman.
The Mexican government has announced advances in its battle against drug cartels, and said recently that violence was down this year compared with 2008.
Meanwhile, authorities on Thursday reported the discovery of a decapitated body wearing a police uniform and four other bodies in the violence-hit northern state of Chihuahua.
Really? Not according to Cardinal Mahoney who actively works to undermine our immigration laws and raises his voice in SUPPORT of criminals who damage to society!
Does anyone at AFP do any research? The Catholic Church is barely legal in Mexico, and the Constitution is explicitly anti-Catholic. They only made being a priest legal in the last 10 years.