Home | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising | El Centinela
Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Wednesday, February 10, 2016
CYO Football 2015 2015 Priest Reassignments, Archdiocese of Portland Cardinal Francis George dies Mothering with faith Sisters of the Holy Names, 2015 Live Nativity at St. John the Baptist 2014 Fall CYO results Catholic Charities Donor Lunch 2014 Year of Consecrated Life opening Mass Holy Spirit Sisters Jubilee 2014 Seaside youth conference Mount Angel 125th Northwest Hub Furlow at papal Mass 2014 Rosary Bowl NW Brother André 2014 Fall 40 Days for Life 2014 Inauguration of Fr. Mark Poorman Coffee shop at abbey First day of school, 2014 Regis High School 50th anniversary 2014 Crooked Finger Pilgrimage Mass with migrant farm workers Maronite Ordination Consecration to "Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Fatima" CYO track Southern Oregon Evangelization 2014 Priest Ordination Christ the King youth 2014 priest reassignments Our Lady of Lavang Confirmation, 2014 Memorial Day 2014 2014 Transitional deacon ordination Padre Foster Granados visits Albany Bishop Smith ordination Canonization of Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII Bishop Peter Smith 2014 Easter Vigil 2014 Walk of Cross 2014 Chrism Mass CYO basketball 2014 St. Patrick of the Forest 150th Catholic Charities Celebration of Hope, 2014 Boys2Men Archbishop visits Oregon State Penitentiary 40 Day Vigil for Life, 2014 Pope Francis creates new cardinals St. Henry shelter 2014 CYO swimming Funeral of Fr. George Wolf Travel on a budget Lunar New Year, 2014 Tech in Catholic schools 2014 Right to Life Rally Archbishop visits Santiam Prison First Mass in Oregon Milwaukie Posada St. Francis, Sherwood, Toy Drive Central Catholic football Typhoon Haiyan Deacon Ordination/ Kresbach, Schmitt A Catholic fisherman St. Cecilia Centennial Southern Oregon Welcome Mass Shepherd of the Valley, Central Point, dedication Grotto Anniversary 2013 Champions of Faith Dinner Gardenripe farms Coleman hop farm Corvallis Year of Faith Archbishop Howard at St. Rose Hitchhiking priests Franciscan Spiritual Center Sacred Heart, Medford Migrant Mass Tanzanians' jubilee World Youth Day 2013 2013 Blessing of the Animals 2013 Freedom Mass Albany school closure Fabric art Megan graduates from Catholic school St. Vincent de Paul Hillsboro 2013 Deacon ordination Sister Theresa Lamkin St. Helen Mission, Brownsville Marist Brainiacs St. Mary, Eugene St. Francis eighth graders Ascension confirmation 2013 Pastoral Ministry Conference St. Joseph Salem — Year of Faith Archbishop Sample's Installation Mass 2013 Archbishop Sample Chrism Mass 2013 2013 Young Catholics Pope Francis inauguration Celebration of Hope Vlazny Farewell Mass Archbishop Vlazny Farewell St. Paul Church in St. Paul Valley Catholic Green Building Rite of Election 2013 Water summit 2013 Lunar New Year Alveda King in Eugene New Monsignors, 2013 2013 Right to Life Rally MLK Mass, 2013 St. Henry, Gresham, Centennial Jesuit High drama School uniforms Friar in the mall Holy Trinity food ministry January Book Covers St. Andre Bessette food Year of Faith Mass Nestucca Sanctuary Hillsboro Choirs Father Betschart installation Salem Religious Freedom Rally Year of Faith Vespers, Awards Roy's Catholic School Adelante Mujeres 10th anniversary New Blanchet House Missionaries of Holy Spirit Priest, religious photos Providence Nursing Schools Pioneros Fortnight for Freedom Mark Bentz Deacon Ordination OLL School Walk Through Gaga over science St. Philip Neri Centennial Ordination of Bishop Cary SVDP, Grants Pass Holy Cross School centennial Confirmation - Mount Angel Holy Land Pilgrimage Blanchet Watershed Chrism Mass, 2012 Bishop-designate Cary Pope in Cuba, 2012 SSMO 125th Jubilee Mass Pope Benedict in Mexico 2012 Catholic Charities Celebration 2012 Madeleine Mardi Gras Centennial Rally for Life, 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Mass 2012 Day Laborers-Guadalupe Guadalupe 2011 Christ the King, Milwaukie, 50th Sesame Doughnuts Central Catholic Volleyball St. Peter Centennial Deacon Ordination, October 2011 St. Agatha Centennial Rosary Bowl 2011 St. Wenceslaus, Scappoose, Centennial Filipino celebration Polish Festival 2011 Holy War Football 2011 World Youth Day 2011 Sun Gold Farm Our Lady of Victory's New Church Freedom Mass 2011 St. Mary Church Steeple Removal Priest reassignments, 2011 Old Catholic Buildings Paige Rice, St. Mary's runner Graduation 2011 Easter vigils 2011 Pastoral Ministry Conference Basketball Holy War 2011 Search for Peace 2011

Novena of Grace 2016

Home : News : Nation and World
New rural police force in Mexico faces distrust from priests, community
Catholic News Service

MEXICO CITY — Father Andres Larios once supported the highly effective self-defense groups, which formed to fight off drug cartels carrying out various crimes in the western state of Michoacan.

He lent them spiritual support, endorsed their activities and let them ring the church bells to call the community to meetings or warn of pending dangers.

But when some members of the groups recently arrived at his parish in Coalcoman asking to ring the bells, he rebuffed them. His refusal signals the sagging support from priests for such movements in the region of rugged hills and lime groves 300 miles west of Mexico City.

"I told them, 'You know what, I no longer believe in these self-defense groups. I don't trust you,'" Father Larios recalled saying.

"People don't trust the authorities, nor do they trust the self-defense groups."

To hear Father Larios and other priests in the Diocese of Apatzingan tell it, self-defense groups have become badly divided and broken -- and still receive backing from the federal government.

The government insists that it is returning order to a long-lawless region by registering the self-defense groups' guns and turning rag-tag militias into a new Rural Police force. The groups are being armed with assault rifles despite having little, if any, formal training.

The federal government ordered the loose network of self-defense groups to disarm by May 10, when it debuted the Rural Police to lay down the law in isolated areas where drug cartels acted with impunity in recent years. Many Rural Police members are former vigilantes.

"It's you today who will have the responsibility going forward to defend your brothers, your families, your neighbors and all those that could be injured by organized and common crime," said Alfredo Castillo, the government's commissioner for Michoacan and the point man for its negotiations with the self-defense groups.

Priests expressed their reservations with the new police, however.  Father Larios alleged they were being given badges and uniforms to give the appearance of the state being calm and under control.

"It's laughable," he said.

On May 10, he added, "They were training them how to salute."

The priests also said the composition of the self-defense groups has changed since the first groups formed in February 2013 to fend off attacks from the Knights Templar cartel. Father Larios noticed it was farm folk who formed the groups to protect their families and property in the early days.

But the priest now sees more ex-cartel members in the ranks of the "autodefensas," as the groups are known, while many more he alleged are acting out of private interests -- such as taking advantage of timber reserves in his area -- than protecting ordinary people.

"These people are going to feel all powerful, now that they have permission to kill, permission to control the rest of the population who don't have weapons," Father Larios said. "Those who don't have weapons, what are they going to do?"

Some leaders of self-defense groups remain on the outs with the federal government. Dr. Jose Manuel Mireles, who was stripped of his position as a spokesman for the coordinating council of self-defense groups and accused by his former colleagues of having lost his mental faculties, accused the government of working with criminals.

Mexican media reported a new cartel known as H3 has surged with members of self-defense groups among its participants.

Priests described the groups and their leaders as, "authentic," or "false," with the authentic ones failing to fall into line with the government.

"People have stopped supporting the self-defense groups," said Father Patricio Madrigal, parish priest in Nueva Italia, where people once welcomed the vigilantes into their communities in an effort to combat crime.

"People are staying silent and have withdrawn to their homes. The community is no longer participating," he said.

The original groups were organized with high hopes. They effectively fought off the quasi-religious Knights Cartel, running them out of communities and enduring weeks and months of having henchmen try to take back the town by blocking deliveries of everything from food to gasoline.

Bishop Miguel Patino Velazquez of Apatzingan highlighted the plight in an October pastoral letter, which gained national attention. He touched on the same topics again in an April 30 homily, while celebrating Mass for Mexico's bishops prior to their meeting with President Enrique Pena Nieto.

"This world (in Michoacan) has many nuances. It's never simply black and white, but has many shades of gray," Bishop Patino said.

"A group can be doing a lot of good for its people today, and tomorrow we're not so sure. We notice that the pace of normal life is normalizing bit by bit, although with the pain, the culture of death refuses to disappear," he said.

Many churchmen are keeping a low profile, while the outspoken vicar, Father Gregorio Lopez Geronimo, who made headlines for celebrating Mass while wearing a bulletproof vest and leading protests, was sent to spend time in a French monastery.

"We're disappointed," Father Madrigal said.

"But it's left us free to have the option of working with the base, not  directly confronting anyone, only warning people, accompanying them, maybe continuing to pressure the government so that it does its part."

Article Comment Submissions
Submit your comments, please. 
Comments are reviewed before being posted to the site. Comments must use respectful language and address the story. Comments are not posted immediately to the site. The site editor may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours. Comments may also be considered to appear as letters in our print edition, unless the writer specifices no.
Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

Mary Jo Tully ~ The Path to Resurrection

News | Viewpoints | Faith & Spirituality | Parish and School Life | Entertainment | Obituaries | Find Churches and Schools | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising
E-Newsletter | RSS Feeds

© 2016 Catholic Sentinel, a service of Oregon Catholic Press

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved