From ......... National Catholic Reporter

October 6, 1995

page 10


Catholic News Service

Foreign-born priests and nuns working in the San Cristobal de las Casas diocese say the Mexican government is engaged in a virtual vendetta against them because, in their pastoral work, they have sided with the poor against the powerful.

Diocesan officials say a recent spate of expulsions, revocations of immigration papers and request that foreign priests and nuns leave the diocese are part of a government "campaign" against Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia of San Cristobal and his diocesan team.

In the most recent wrangle between the San Cristobal diocese and government agencies, federal Interior Secretariat officials told Ruiz Sept. 18 he should ask five foreign-born priests and nuns in his diocese to leave Mexico immediately or face possible arrest and deportation. Dominican Fr. Gonzalo Ituarte, vicar for justice and peace in the San Cristobal diocese, said that the list given the bishop by Interior Secretariat officials includes three nuns - one a U.S. citizenÑ and two French priests currently working in Chiapas.

In another incident causing controversy for the church, Mexican police arrested one of two men accused of committing the May 1993 murder of Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo of Guadalajara.

Edgar Nicolas Mariscal was using a false name and driver's license and carrying a submachine gun in the vehicle he was driving when he was arrested by Federal Judicial Police agents Sept. 24 in the northern state of Sinaloa.

The federal attorney general's office reported that Mariscal said that he and another gunman, Juan Francisco Murillo Diaz, fired on Posadas' automobile because they "confused the vehicle in which he was riding with that used by Joaquin Guzman Loera." The cardinal is believed by government law enforcement officials to have been killed by mistake when gunmen in the pay of Tijuana drug cartel chieftains opened fire in the Guadalajara airport on members of a rival drug gang.

In Guadalajara, Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez told the Mexican newspaper Reforma that the arrest of Mariscal does not explain the many flaws in the official theory that Posadas was killed by mistake. "As I have said on many previous occasions, that theory leaves a lot to be explained," Sandoval said.