When Pope Benedict visited Mexico in March this year, in his ‘Message of Hope’ he pointed out that economic inequality was hampering development and was a principal cause of the country’s drug and violence problem. He promised to place the Church at the disposal of the State so that together they could try to eradicate organised crime, writes Gerald MacCarthy in Thinking Faith.
But Bishop José Raúl Vera López OP of Saltillo, near the Mexican border with the United States, is far more direct in his assessment of the problem and in particular of the six years in office of the outgoing Mexican President, Felipe Calderon, and his Administration. The government is leaving, he says, "with close to a hundred thousand corpses all over the country, tens of clandestine burial sites, nearly forty thousand abductions, two hundred thousand people displaced."
Before his visit to Mexico in March, Pope Benedict received a letter from someone who has been affected directly by this problem: the Mexican poet and journalist, Javier Sicilia, who lost his son, Juan Francisco when he was killed with friends by a criminal gang in March 2012.
In order to raise awareness on an international level of the scale of the problem, Sicilia took his letter to the Holy Father in Rome before his visit to Mexico, which was just before Holy Week. It was written, he said, on behalf of all those parents who had suffered loss, just as God the Father himself suffered the loss of his Son, remembered by us on the Good Friday then approaching.
Javier Sicilia has never been afraid of wearing his Catholic heart on his sleeve and his letter to Pope Benedict is no exception. It is a passionate plea for understanding of the plight of those caught up in the drug war and a powerful illustration of how deeply the Mystical Body of Christ in these countries is suffering:
"Mexico and Central America, Beloved Benedict, are at this moment the body of Christ abandoned in the Garden of Gethsemane and crucified between two thieves.
"A body, like that of Our Lord, on which has fallen all the force of delinquency, the omissions and grave corruptions of the State and its governments, the prohibition of drug consumption in the United States, their manufacture of arms which pass illegally to our country to arm the criminals, money laundering making available huge sums, a hierarchical Church which, with its exceptions and its best face in its religious, maintains the silence of an accomplice; and of a world – the American way of life – which has reduced everything to production, the consumer society and money."
This is a movingly Pauline and prayerful letter, but at the same time it is a rigorous critique of Mexico’s political and ecclesial structures. What has led Javier Sicilia to make such serious accusations against both the Mexican State and the hierarchy of the Mexican Church?
FULL STORY A Christian response to the Mexican drug wars (Thinking Faith)