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Church: we support the troops — in their barracks

14 December 2009

Although the Church (and any religious body, for that matter) cannot, as an organization, take a position for or against any political issue (the Church cannot lobby the Chamber of Deputies, or support any candidate, for example), nor can a church be used for political activity, clerics can express an opinion outside their precincts.  Msgr. Hugo Valdemar, the press liaison for the Archdiocese of Mexico normally has a few reporters waiting for him just outside the Metropolitan Cathedral on Sunday mornings, and his “opinion” can be taken as official statement by Cardinal Norberto Rivera.

My translation is from El Universal’s coverage of yesterdays not quite “ex-cathedra” — more “exiting the Cathedral” — statement.

Hugo Valdemar, spokesman for the the Archdiocese of Mexico, said yesterday that the federal government should consider replacing the Army with an effective national police force in the battle against the scourge of drug trafficking,

Valdemar admitted that federal authorities do not presently have the numbers of police needed to replace the military in the fight against organized crime but that the military are engaging in human rights violations.

Interviewed at the end of Sunday Mass in the Metropolitan Cathedral, the prelate said that this situation must be considered by the current administration and that the highest priority needs to be protecting the individual rights of the people.

He said the federal government should consider creating a national police force dedicated exclusively to combating drug trafficking, and that the military can not do everything at home.

While several of the commentators on the article speculated on church ties to the narcotics traffickers, and — being Mexico, where anti-clericalism is a long tradition — there are a fair share of knee-jerk “how many little boys has this guy boinked?” type comments, what’s more interesting is the reaction of the faithful, who are the Calderón Administration’s biggest supporters.

That the Church — as an institution — has also recognized the failure of the present “drug war” model, but also the proposal that municipal and state police be replaced with a single national force, is another sign not just that  “drug war” model is being rejected by Mexican society, but that the Felipe Calderón is, himself, cannot expect uncritical support for his proposals.

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