ROSARIO, Argentina – On Friday, a priest was murdered in El Salvador. On Saturday, thousands mobilized in Argentina to mark the second international Day for Two Lives, a pro-life event. And on Sunday, the archdiocesan newspaper of Mexico City argued that the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t slowing down in the country because people are “selfish.”
Here’s the round-up of what you need to know form the Catholic Church in Latin America from the past weekend.
On Friday, Father Ricardo Cortez, 44, rector of the San Oscar Arnulfo Romero Church in El Salvador was murdered in a crime described by the Diocese of Zacatecoluca as “inexplainable.”
The Salvadorian land “once again is tinted by innocent blood, of a good shepherd who have his life to his flock,” reads the statement, released soon after the priest was found with several gunshot wounds on the side of a road close to the city of San Francisco Chinamequita, where he was also a parish priest.
The “once again” is a reference to Romero, the archbishop murdered in 1980 while he was saying Mass. He was declared a saint by Pope Francis in 2018.
The prosecutors’ office is investigating the murder of Cortez, but seeing that El Salvador has one of the world’s highest crime rates, coupled with what the United Nations has described as an “endless cycle of impunity,” some observers believe the crime will go unpunished.
The diocese defined the priest as “a good man,” devoted to his people and dedicated to the formation of seminarians, hence the “inexplicability” of someone killing Cortez.
On August 8, the second anniversary of Argentina’s Senate rejecting a bill to legalize abortion, thousands mobilized around the country – in a car caravan, in compliance with COVID-19 restrictions – to mark what they’re trying to institute as the “International Day of Action for Both Lives.” The campaign is aimed at stopping abortion while supporting the lives of pregnant women, calling for better policies that support mothers in need.
The rally was both in cars and online, with testimony from people shared throughout the day. The hashtags #CaravanaProVida (Pro Life Caravan) and #8A became regional trending topics on Twitter. The event was organized by around 200 pro-life NGO’s that have been working together since 2018, when the legalization of abortion was discussed in the national legislature after then-President Mauricio Macri allowed the debate to take place – a first in 12 years.
The current government of President Alberto Fernandez has pledged to legalize abortion, and has instituted regulations to make it easier for women to access the few exceptions to the current law.
Ana Mármora, one of the one of the hosts of the broadcast, said: “They said that legal abortion was not going to force anyone to abort. Now real women are going to speak, [women] who are lied to, pressured and forced to have an abortion. ”
“They are being denied their right to be mothers and suffer institutional violence, neglect and discrimination,” she warned.
One of the women who spoke said that abortion is not a “right” but a “great business that discards the most vulnerable ones and destroys the health system.”
Though it had the support of the Catholic hierarchy, the Church took part in the caravan with the representation of laypeople, not the clergy.
In an editorial published by the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Mexico City, the local Catholic hierarchy argued that if the COVID-19 pandemic is still rampant in the country, it’s due to the fact that society is selfishly refusing to cooperate to stop it.
In addition, the editorial pointed out that in the more than 52,000 coronavirus deaths that have accumulated so far “there is a great responsibility in omissions, excuses, ignorance and selfishness” by the Mexican people for not assuming the need to care for one another.
The comments came in the Sunday editorial of Desde La Fe, the archdiocesan weekly magazine. The piece was titled “How many more deaths?”
“There are no pretexts, if the pandemic does not give way in Mexico it is because, as a society, we do not want it to happen,” says the editorial.
“We have not yet understood that the dead are our dead, yours and mine, and that is an inescapable reality,” the editorial argues.
Mexico is ranked third in the world in the number of people killed by the pandemic, behind only the United States and Brazil.
Faced with these “unfortunate figures” the editorial asks, “have we complied with the necessary care? Have we promoted strict sanitary control in our home and work? Have we avoided meetings, parties and unnecessary visits?”
The newspaper noted that “we are very clear about the transmission mechanism of the virus, we know how to prevent it from reaching us – especially the most vulnerable — and above all, we have information that is easily available for most Mexicans.”
Follow Inés San Martín on Twitter: @inesanma