MEXICO – Bishop appeals for end to violence and murders
Bishop José de Jesús Martínez Zepeda of Irapuato is appealing for peace in Mexico after years of shockingly high murder rates. According to Mexico’s National Institute for Statistics and Geography, between 2007 and 2014 there were 164,345 homicides in the country. The period covers some of the bloodiest years of fighting between the drug cartels and the Mexican government since the “war on drugs” started in 2006.
In 2015 three priests were murdered in Mexico, according to the Investigation Unit of the Catholic Multimedia Center. There have also been more recent attacks on Catholic churches and priests, including one in Bishop Martínez’s own diocese of Irapuato last month. Four armed men assaulted Fr. Efren Silva while he was in the sacristy of Lord of Mercy parish in Irapuato’s Lazaro Cardenas neighborhood. “The robbers came in, tied him up and roughed him up so he would tell them where the money was. In reality, it’s a very poor parish, when the money comes in and goes out on a daily basis” said the bishop. The thieves stole nearly $400 from the church.
Bishop Martínez said this is not an isolated incident. He recently heard that a priest from Salamanca had been attacked by robbers who “struck him on the forehead, inflicting such a wound that he had to go to a medical center to get stitches.” Appealing for peace, he said “We hope these incidents will soon stop.”
The bishop firmly believes that the solution to ending the violence lies in changing people’s hearts, and that making peace should involve being at peace with God and with your neighbour. Otherwise Mexico cannot expect a good future.
Bishop Martínez offered words of encouragement to the faithful, stating that there is no reason to lose hope, for “Christ has risen, the tomb is empty; we need to work so that the Resurrection of Christ encompasses our society.”