Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Right Activists, Landowners Vie for Pope's Attention

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Right Activists, Landowners Vie for Pope's Attention

Article excerpt

FROM WIRE SERVICES Mexico City

Six church-related groups wrote Pope John Paul II just before his visit to Mexico about the "especially delicate" human rights situation in the country.

In a five-page letter dated Jan. 18, the groups said poverty was the main obstacle to fully guaranteeing the exercise of human rights by millions of Mexicans. The letter was signed by representatives of Jesuit and Dominican national human rights offices and four diocesan human rights centers in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero.

In another letter dated Jan. 20, a group of wealthy and conservative landowners asked the pope to remove activist Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia, who has sided with the poor in their battle for rights.

Large parts of the three states in which the human rights activists work, all in southern Mexico, are heavily militarized in the wake of peasant uprisings in the past five years.

During his Jan. 22-26 visit to Mexico, Pope John Paul was scheduled to release an apostolic exhortation, the final document resulting from the Synod of Bishops for America held in Rome in 1997.

In an interview published Jan. 17 in the weekly newsmagazine Proceso, Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez of Guadalajara said that in Mexico the pope could not avoid speaking on economic justice, the foreign debt and indigenous rights.

However, the government official responsible for relations with religious groups, Guillermo Jimenez Morales, subsecretary for religious affairs, said Jan. …

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