Mexico’s bishops have published security protocols, hoping to keep priests and religious safe – along with church property and shrines – as crime and violence increasingly impacts churchmen and consumes previously peaceful corners of the country.
“The protocol is in response to what’s happened the last two years, the increase in murders, not only of priests, (but) there’s also a surge in this pain that is impacting our country,” Auxiliary Bishop Alfonso Miranda Guardiola of Monterrey, the Mexican bishops’ conference secretary-general, told reporters on 19th June.
“This protocol is meant to be a strong prevention tool.”
Mexico suffered its most murderous year in memory in 2017, recording more than 29,000 homicides, as the country’s crackdown on drug cartels and organised crime showed few signs of success. Crimes such as kidnap, extortion and robbery with violence have harmed ordinary Mexicans and, increasingly, priests.
The Catholic Multimedia Centre has counted 24 priests murdered since December 2012. Some of those murders are attributed to organised crime, which is thought to kill priests and authority figures to establish dominance over a crime territory. But eight of the cases of murdered priests involve little more than robbery, said Fr Rogelio Narvaez Martinez, executive secretary of the bishops’ social ministries.
Picture: Police tape that reads ‘Danger’ is seen at a crime scene in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on 4th January. (CNS photo/Jose Luis Gonzales, Reuters).