HomeNewsBriefCan Meetings Between Priests and Criminals Help Reduce Violence in Mexico?
BRIEF

Can Meetings Between Priests and Criminals Help Reduce Violence in Mexico?

MEXICO / 3 APR 2017 BY STEVEN DUDLEY AND VICTORIA DITTMAR EN

Recent meetings between a bishop and criminal groups in Mexico are seeking a solution to violence against religious leaders. However, it remains to be seen if the Catholic Church is willing to take a more active role in this mediation between civil society and criminals.

Salvador Rangel Mendoza, bishop of Chilpancingo-Chilapa in the Mexican state of Guerrero, told Radio Fórmula that he saw the need to to meet with some leaders of criminal groups that operate in the state in the wake of threats that some priests were receiving. 

“When I saw that some priests had been threatened, one very seriously, I decided to go see these people and talk to them,” the bishop told Radio Fórmula. “It pays to engage in dialogue, see faces, hear their reasons for acting the way they do, because Guerrero is almost entirely in the hands of drug traffickers.” 

Rangel Mendoza acknowledged that the church had already managed to enter into talks with almost all the criminal groups operating in Guerrero. Earlier this week, the bishop also expressed his willingness to act as a mediator in the event that the government decides to seek a dialogue with organized crime groups. 

Benito Cuenca Mayo, a spokesman for the diocese, told Aciprensa that “thanks to these meetings [Rangel Mendoza] has had with them, it is possible that they won’t continue to give these death threats” to some priests. 

InSight Crime Analysis 

The state’s inability to deal with organized crime in Guerrero calls into question who can act as a mediator between criminal groups and civil society. In some countries in the region, such as El Salvador, the church has come to assume this role. It remains to be seen whether the same thing will happen in Mexico, especially in communities where the church has a strong presence. 

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profile

Religious representatives have the ability to express the discontent of communities that would otherwise receive little attention. But throughout its history, the Catholic Church in Mexico has been characterized more by its timidity than by its activism. 

However, there are some examples of religious leaders who have raised their voices in the midst of violence. In 2013, a group of bishops in the state of Michoacán spoke out against the control exercised by the Knights Templar in the Tierra Caliente region, and also criticized government corruption. In the state of Oaxaca, Father Alejandro Solalinde has been dedicated to helping migrants who are in danger of becoming victims of criminal groups. 

During a visit to the country in 2016, Pope Francis called attention to the issue when he preached against the bad influences of organized crime. He also prayed in front of the tomb of Samuel Ruíz García, a deceased bishop and proponent of liberation theology, a doctrine that emphasized the human mission of the church as promoting more equality in society.

Rangel Mendoza’s efforts, however, seem to be more focused on curbing violence toward priests. There is little evidence to suggest that the Catholic Church in Mexico as an institution wants to enter such dangerous terrain and act as the mediators of the conflict.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Related Content

MEXICO / 9 APR 2013

The number of Marines involved in counternarcotics operations in Mexico has fallen 40 percent since Enrique Peña Nieto took power,…

MEXICO / 25 SEP 2012

Inmates are in control of some 60 percent of Mexico's prisons, according to a report by the government human rights…

HOMICIDES / 25 JUL 2017

Attacks on Mexico's nightclubs are on the rise, suggesting criminal groups are becoming increasingly willing to use public violence,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…