The Church in Mexico, with deep faith in Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe, searches valiantly with the Church in the United States for ways to collaborate and to respond to the crisis affecting Mexican society. The Church does so despite the threats of violence targeted against her priests, religious and lay workers.
Travelling to Mexico from June 15 through June 19, Archbishop Thomas Wenski and Bishop Oscar Cantú heard of the crucial pastoral work of the Church in Mexico, and offered their support. The visit included significant discussions with key bishops and staff members of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference (CEM). Pertinent U.S. and other governmental officials and members of Mexican civil society were consulted as well.
The bishops visited a migrant assistance facility in Huehuetoca, where refugees are provided food, clothing and medical care. They also journeyed to the historic cathedral in Cuernavaca, learning first-hand of the assistance provided to the poor and marginalized by the Diocese. Mass was celebrated at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, where the beautiful tilma, or shawl, worn by Saint Juan Diego, bearing the miraculous imprint of the Blessed Mother, is preserved and venerated. An earlier visit to the home of this saint in Cuatitlán provided perspective on the profound religious and cultural prominence of the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe for Mexico and all the Americas.
The bishops heard of the impressive work undertaken on behalf of the Archdiocese of Acapulco in providing support to victims of violence and their relatives. One mother movingly described the tragic loss of her teen-aged daughter, murdered by neighborhood friends corrupted by the culture of cruelty and impunity that pervades much of Mexican society. She and other grieving parents eloquently testified to the crucial role of the Church in providing counseling, community and compassion in these sorrowful circumstances.
Archbishop Wenski and Bishop Cantú participated in a press conference held jointly with key bishops from the CEM, where hopes for continued dialogue and collaboration were discussed. As a result, a new relationship has dawned between the committees and offices of the USCCB and of the CEM that address topics of justice and peace. Many issues need to be considered in a collaborative manner between the two respective Conferences. A visit to the United States by a delegation of bishops and staff from the CEM is expected to continue this process of collaboration. Permanent communication between the two bodies will also be realized, using Skype, telephone, e-mail and the electronic sharing of documents. In this way, analyses and reflections on issues, problems or matters of common interest will be exchanged.
Pastoral challenges remain great in Mexico, but the courageous actions of the Church in that country merit the unhesitating support and diligent efforts of the Church in our country. A clear lesson derived from this journey was the importance of the Church’s accompaniment of her people in Mexico, through her many charitable activities, educational outreach and pastoral services. Greater collaboration on policy recommendations and effective governmental communication will be a component of this dialogue. Our peoples share a common border and history, bearing mutual responsibility to enhance the life, dignity and humanity of our citizens. United in this endeavor, and guided by Our Savior and His Blessed Mother, we can strive, through our prayers and our actions, to bring these efforts to a blessed and successful conclusion.
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.