Stories emerge daily illustrating how complex, and at times desperate, the situation in Mexico is becoming. A culture of violence with attacks on human life and a prevalence of corruption have come to dominate the lives of many Mexicans. Innocent civilians are often caught in a web of narco-criminal activity, economic injustice, and corruption at all levels of Mexican society. Yet the Church in Mexico, with deep faith in Cristo Rey (Christ the King) and Our Lady of Guadalupe, and despite seeing the increasing disappearance and murder of priests, is looking for ways to respond. The Church is reaching out to the faithful here in the United States to find areas of mutual collaboration.
Between June 15 and June 19, 2015, Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami and Chair of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Oscar Cantú, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, will make a solidarity visit to reflect with the Church in Mexico. The principal goals for this visit flow from concerns analyzed at the 2014 Fall Meeting of the U.S. Bishops, as well as at meetings of the Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and on International Justice and Peace. These concerns include: violence and criminality, narcotics and human trafficking, as well as poverty—all “root causes” of migration that also contribute to the increasing suffering in Mexico.
This forthcoming visit will allow a continuation of discussions begun at a meeting last month in Mexico City, with key bishops and staff of the Conferencia del Episcopado Mexicano, or Conference of Mexican Bishops (CEM), as well as with pertinent U.S. and other governmental officials and members of Mexican civil society. Archbishop Wenski and Bishop Cantú will listen, learn and express solidarity with, and support for, the crucial pastoral role undertaken by the Church in Mexico in response to the ever present challenges facing our two nations. The Universal Church, most recently in the statements of Pope Francis, has consistently singled out economic inequality between nations as a global disorder that must be addressed. These topics must remain the subject of an on-going collaboration and dialogue between the Church in Mexico and in the United States. Another major goal of the visit will be to understand better the situation in Mexico, so that the Committees, and the USCCB, can better collaborate with, and advocate on behalf of the Church and people of Mexico, here in the United States.
The U.S. government, through the “Mérida Initiative,” provides significant amounts of foreign aid to this region. But U.S. aid and assistance should prioritize development rather than focusing mostly on militarized security investments in Mexico. U.S. policy should ensure that projects and resources emphasize, for example, the agricultural sector and small businesses development in Latin America. In addition, more emphasis on the institutions of sound governance needs to be encouraged by international and local national policies including: combatting corruption, fostering a stable and fair judiciary, and promoting the rule of law and human rights.
U.S. policies should reflect the importance of controlling demand for illegal drugs and curbing the illicit drug trade, and curtailing the arms trade, weapons and human trafficking, as well as the resultant violence that accompanies these illicit activities. All these areas are subjects for continuing fruitful discussion with the bishops and staff of the CEM, as well as with governmental representatives and leaders in civil society in Mexico.
The forthcoming solidarity visit to Mexico offers an opportunity for our two nations, but one Church, to stand in solidarity and promote a culture of life, mercy and peace.
Anthony Granado is a policy advisor for the Office of Domestic Social Development and Richard Coll is a policy advisor for the Office of International Justice and Peace at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.