Assassinated Mexican Cardinal Remembered in New Book

Tells Story of a Courageous Pastor, Recalls Need to Battle Drug Wars

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The heroic life of a Mexican cardinal murdered by warring drug cartels has been recalled at a book presentation in Rome. 

The book, called «Los Chacales» (The Jackals) by Jesús Becerra Pedrote, tells the story of the 1993 murder of Mexican Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo by organised crime gangs.

The cardinal was assassinated along with six other people in the parking lot of Guadalajara International Airport. A government inquiry concluded he was caught in a shootout between rival cocaine cartels and was mistakenly identified as a drug lord.

The book presentation was organized by the Community of San’Egidio and took place Tuesday in Rome’s Basilica of St. Bartholomew the Apostle on Tiber Island – a church dedicated to 20th century martyrs.

Among those speaking at Tuesday’s event were Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega, the archbishop of Guadalajara; Fernando Guzman Perez Palaez, a lawyer in this case; Fr. Riccardo Canelli, of the San Egidio Community, who specializes in Mexico and Latin America; and Lucia Capuzzi, journalist of the Avvenire, also a specialist in the region.

“He was a true martyr for the cause of the Gospel,” Cardinal Robles said. His example «compels me to express my admiration for him, for the great pastor and bishop he was.”

Noting Cardinal Posadas’ vivacity, seen through how he encouraged and inspired faithful, especially in Mexico and Spain, Cardinal Robles shared some of the advice Cardinal Posadas gave. The late cardinal «always reminded us to trust in the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe,» he said. “We can walk with her because she is with us.”

His Eminence noted the Mexican church is “full of martyrs” – a view echoed in various ways by the speakers that evening. “In his blood was hidden the future” for Mexico and the Church, noted Sant’Egidio’s Fr. Canelli.

Capuzzi illustrated why the world should care about this after two decades have passed. One reason, she said, is that “since problems return over time, it is important to address these difficult questions now.» Pope Francis, she added, has likewise said this.

The other reason is that the problem continues in Mexico today. «Even now, the martyrs of the Church of Mexico still exist today,” she said, saying they persist in fighting for justice.

A true danger, she added, is the pervasive scourge of drugs worldwide. “Even if the problem started in Mexico, drug consumers also are in the US as well as Europe, which could be a gateway into Italy,» she said, and noted that with the Italian mafia, such trafficking could be especially fatal.

Guzman told ZENIT that “Ocampo was without a doubt a pastor,” adding he was “humble, direct, and transmitted the faith and truth.»

Giving historical and legal background, Guzman stressed how Mexicans are tired of waiting for more than 20 years to receive the truth about what happened to their beloved cardinal. Asked why he wanted to work on this case, Guzman said it was a “desire for justice and truth,” not only for him, but for Mexicans, and the Church of Mexico.

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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