Monsignor Victor Rene Rodriguez and many other priests are reporting threats, extortion and abuse by drug dealers coming in from all over the nation. In response, the Mexican Catholic Church has adopted several new procedures to minimize the risk to both priests and parishioners. Some fellow bishops have opted to cancel evening masses so parishioners need not be on the street after dark. Priests are being asked to always wear clothing that identifies them as priests and to not travel into remote areas.
“They threaten us,” Monsignor Rodriguez states. “They accuse us of siding with La Linea [drug gang] or La Familia [rival gang]. They also tell us, ‘You have to cooperate with us or we will kill you.’”
Monsignor Rodriguez also says priests are forced to minister to drug traffickers. “They give the orders,” he said. “They say, ‘We will pick you up. We need you to minister.’” There have been cases where a priest has been unable to perform a scheduled baptism or a first communion and church parishioners suffer the consequences.