Mexican Bishops Protest Priest’s Beating by Military

Officials in Drug War Turn on Pastor and Coworkers

MATAMOROS, Mexico, FEB. 21, 2008 ( Bishop Faustino Armendáriz Jiménez of Matamoros expressed his indignation after a priest and three parish workers were beaten and robbed by military officials.

Father Guadalupe Barbosa Cruz, pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, was the victim of the violence, along with three coworkers who accompanied him.

Patrolling in the northeastern border state of Tamaulipas has increased as part of the nation’s efforts to combat drug trafficking.

Bishop Armendáriz Jiménez expressed his support of the military efforts, but protested the act in which the priest and his coworkers “were brutally beaten without any cause when they arrived to a military checkpoint. Without asking for their identification, they were taken down and beaten for a long time, until one of them could communicate that one of the victims was a priest.”

“Fortunately,” the bishop added, “this was enough to stop the beating. But along with this, their belongings were taken. We hope and we ask that these types of events not be repeated with any citizen, and that the armed forces act accordingly against those members who commit this type of outrage.”

The Mexican bishops’ conference, in a communiqué released by the secretary-general, Auxiliary Bishop José Leopoldo González González of Guadalajara, seconded the prelate’s concern.

“On more than one occasion, the bishops of Mexico have shown our support for the federal and state governments and the various corporations that have worked in the joint operations in the fight against the scourge of drug trafficking,” the statement said. “At the same time, the bishops have expressed the need for strict vigilance regarding respect for people’s life, dignity and rights.

“The fight against organized crime does not justify crimes committed against innocent citizens by those who should be protecting their safety.

“Today we want to express our condemnation of these acts, and urge the corresponding authorities to take the necessary measures so that things like this do not happen again. We also express our solidarity with the people affected, and offer our support to the Diocese of Matamoros and in particular, to Father Guadalupe Barbosa Cruz and the community he serves in the Parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

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