Cartel Kidnapped Bishop Who Sought End To Violence

( – A retired bishop with the Roman Catholic church who is famed for his attempts to mediate peace between rival cartels was kidnapped according to a statement by the Mexican Council of Bishops issued on Monday, April 29. Church officials said that Msgr. Salvador Rangel, bishop emeritus, vanished on Saturday, April 27 and requested his captors release him so he could take his medication, suggesting the move would be a compelling “act of humanity.”

Rangel worked in the infamous diocese of Chilpancingo-Chilapa in the south of Mexico in the state of Guerro. The area is a hotspot of drug-related gang activity and regular cartel battles for dominance. Rangel was known for attempting to negotiate peace between the rivals and his efforts were later acknowledged and lauded by the government.

Rangel was kidnapped in Morelos state, north of Guerrero. The bishops’ statement highlights the delicate nature of working in these areas and interacting with violent criminals who regularly murder people for sport or on a whim. The statement advised Rangel’s captors that he was in poor health and regularly required medication. It asked “firmly but respectfully” for him to be allowed to take his medicine as soon as possible.

Rangel was released on Tuesday, April 30 and taken to a hospital but scant other details were available at the time of writing on May 1.

The last time a church official was harmed by cartel violence was in 1993 when Bishop Juan Posadas Ocampo was shot and killed in a case of mistaken identity at the Guadalajara airport.

Other priests have also helped arrange peace between warring factions. Rev. José Filiberto Velázquez explained that negotiations in February resulted in the leaders of the Familia Michoacana cartel and the Tlacos gang sitting down for talks. Cartels frequently squabble over the “rights” to sell drugs or charge “protection fees” in an area.

Religious authorities regularly attempt to de-escalate the violence. The current bishop in charge of Chilpancingo-Chilapa told the media that they’re working on peace negotiations with cartel bosses in another part of the country and were having success.

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