Friday, December 28, 2007

Outspoken bishop backed by civil society

Former members of the Catholic Church hierarchy and over 100 social organizations closed ranks behind Monsignor Raúl Vera, the only Catholic bishop in Mexico who still adheres to liberation theology, and whose unorthodox stances and confrontational style are disturbing conservative sectors.

“The Vatican is wary of Vera, and there are rumors that proceedings may have been initiated against him. But we want to state that the bishop is not alone, and that we will defend him,” the head of the non-governmental Ecclesiastical Observatory (OE), José Guadalupe Sánchez said.

In an open letter published Monday by several newspapers, social organizations in Mexico and abroad, and bishops like Pedro Casaldáliga of Spain and Samuel Ruiz of Mexico, who are adherents of liberation theology, a progressive theological current in Latin America, declared an “alert” because of the accusations against Vera, whom they call “a pastor and prophet for our time.”

Vera, 62, was ordained bishop in 1988. He originally served in the impoverished southern state of Guerrero and then in nearby Chiapas, where he was auxiliary bishop to Ruiz in San Cristóbal de las Casas.

From 2000, Vera has been the bishop in the city of Saltillo, the capital of the state of Coahuila, in northwestern Mexico.

Vera had called Judge Hiradier Huerta a “ruffian” from the pulpit, in criticism for sentences he passed against army troops accused of raping local women.

Huerta accused Vera of slander and asked the Vatican to impose the maximum penalty, which is removal from office.

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