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Priest who fights drugs cartels says Church is stopping him

"I know how to fight against the drug cartels, corrupt officials and police, I know how to fight all of them, but I can't fight the church," says activist priest.

  • Mark Stevenson
  • Mexico
  • August 10, 2012
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A crusading Roman Catholic priest who has defied drug cartels and corrupt police to protect Central American migrants said Wednesday that church authorities are trying to smother his activist work with migrants by assigning him to parish duties.

The Rev. Alejandro Solalinde has become well known in Mexico after enduring death threats for publicly denouncing drug gangs and police who rob and kidnap Central American migrants crossing Mexico to reach the United States.

But Solalinde's diocese said he is simply being asked to start operating within the normal parish structure, and run his migrant shelter more like a church ministry and less like a lone activist's non-governmental organization.

It's the first major public clash between the conservative Mexican church hierarchy and activist priests since the diocese of San Cristobal was told to curtail "Indian" church practices begun by Bishop Samuel Ruiz and hew to accepted doctrine in 2002.

Solalinde said his superior, Msgr. Oscar Campos, bishop of the Diocese of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico, isn't interested in the kind of humanitarian work he considers his mission. He runs the "Hermanos en el Camino" shelter in Oaxaca state, where he has said the Zetas drug cartel, in league with corrupt police, has kidnapped and robbed migrants.

Solalinde's outspokenness is rare in a country where many fear to even name the Zetas, and he took a brief leave from the shelter in May after receiving death threats.

Solalinde said the bishop told him he would be assigned to be a parish priest, something Solalinde said would "bury me in bureaucracy, administrative tasks, ceremonies, and take away my full time dedication to the migrants."

"I know how to fight against the drug cartels, and corrupt officials and police, I know how to fight all of them, but I can't fight the church," Solalinde said. "If the church asks me to do this, the church is going to achieve what all the other forces haven't, which is to get me to leave, to leave the flock defenseless so they do what they want with them."

Full Story: Church wants to reassign Mexico activist priest

Source: USA Today
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