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Missing persons in Mexico II: The response of the Church and the Claretians SDG 10, 16, 17

by | Aug 16, 2022 | America, Partners, Paz, Peace | 0 comments

Missing persons in Mexico II: The response of the Church and the Claretians

Sabás Cristóbal García González, cmf

B.A. in Philosophy, Baccalaureate Theology

Master in Human Rights and Peace.

MICLA Solidarity and Mission Team

Claretian Province of Mexico

Third, how does this situation challenge civil society, the churches, and the Claretian Missionaries of Mexico? The question itself is complex. In fact, civil society developed two relevant social movements around the problem, but with different temporalities. During the “dirty war”, the movement of relatives of the detained-disappeared grouped under the Comité Nacional Pro-Defensa de los Presos, Perseguidos, Desaparecidos y Exiliados Políticos de México (later Comité Eureka!), founded in 1977, was instituted.

During the “war on drugs”, the problem of the forced disappearance of persons gained prominence and gave rise to a consistent articulation of collectives of victims’ relatives after the outrage caused by the disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa in 2014, until in 2015 they formed the national and transnational network of the Movement for Our Disappeared in Mexico, whose immediate predecessor is the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, which emerged in 2011 during the period of intensified criminal collective violence. Currently, the Movement for Our Disappeared comprises more than 120 collectives from the 32 states of Mexico and Central America.

Wilhelmus Agato, CMF, in prayer with relatives of missing persons during the “Day of Prayer for Peace in Mexico” at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Torreon, Coahuila, (July 2022). Photo: Agato, W. (2022).

Women and mothers are the ones who play a leading role, whose activism in defense of human rights is interpreted in terms of political motherhood and politicized mourning (García, S., 2022). At this juncture, the participation of progressive ecclesial agents and members of the “Church of the poor” in tune with the Basic Ecclesial Communities formed an active part of the social mobilization. A significant contribution to the Movement for the Disappeared in Mexico was made in the Diocese of Saltillo, Coahuila, with the commendable coordination of Bishop Emeritus Raul Vera and the joint action of religious women, men religious, secular clergy, and organized civil society.

The action of the Claretian Missionaries of Mexico before the problem of such social notability is of “low profile”, but yes, of an accompaniment, transitory or sometimes prolonging, to the victims of violence during the moments of collective mourning in the Eucharist and community prayers; complement in person to the relatives of the victims; channeling of specific cases through the organizations of the civil society, or to participate directly in some collective of relatives of disappeared persons. The recent assassination of the Jesuits in the Tarahumara diocese in June 2022 provokes collective anger at the increase in criminal violence and, therefore, the forced disappearance of persons.

“Memory, truth and justice” for the disappeared persons during the “Day of Prayer for peace in Mexico” at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Torreón, Coahuila, (July 2022). Photo: Agato, W. (2022).

In the context of new spirals of violence, the Claretian Missionaries in different parts of Mexico also joined the call issued by the Mexican Episcopal Conference (CEM), the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious of Mexico (CIRM), and the Mexican Province of the Society of Jesus, to promote the “Day of Prayer for Peace in Mexico” developed in July 2022, whose call has four purposes:

  1. In all Masses […] remember all priests, religious men, and women who have been murdered in the country […] 2. celebrate Masses or hold community prayers in significant places that represent all persons who have disappeared or suffered a violent death, whether intentional homicides, femicides, social activists […] 3. As a prophetic sign of our Church, the Eucharist on July 31, let us pray for the victimizers, let us pray for the victimizers, let us pray for their lives and the conversion of their hearts […] 4. [To contribute] to this path for peace, such as holy hours, processions for peace, messages to the people of God. (CEM, CIRM, and Jesuits of Mexico, 2022).

Accompaniment of Sabás C. García, CMF., to the collective of Families United for Truth and Justice in the framework of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, (2021, August). Photo: Segovia, I. (2021).

The Church, together with civil society organizations, has the urgent mission of accompanying countless relatives of victims in the process of access to justice, who ordinarily face the permanent ordeal of enduring, on the one hand, the lacerating revictimization and indolence of the competent authorities, and on the other, the indifference of a large part of Mexican society, whose attitude can only be explained as the result of the new architectures of fear established by the practices of terror against individuals, groups and populations, especially those vulnerable in precarious contexts.

Missing persons, victims of criminal violence (homicides/feminicides), their families, and orphaned children/children/adolescents undoubtedly constitute the “crucified people” who have been crying out, not infrequently in silence, for several years now, the imminent and resolute task of “significantly reducing all forms of violence” (SDG, 2015, no. 16.1).

Sabás Cristóbal García González, CMF.

Wilhelmus Agato, CMF, in prayer with relatives of missing persons during the “Day of Prayer for Peace in Mexico” at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Torreon, Coahuila, (July 2022). Photo: Agato, W. (2022).


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