ROSARIO, Argentina – While up and down Latin America, Easter homilies and messages delivered by Catholic prelates were rooted in the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection, it was inevitable that situations of violence, crisis and looming national elections led many bishops to add a social and political edge.

For instance, a message from the Argentine’s bishops’ conference offered a strong defense of life, as the country debates an abortion law for the first time in over a decade. In Paraguay, bishops called for civil responsibility in upcoming elections, while a bishop in Mexico used Holy Friday to meet with a drug lord and ask him to stop killing politicians.

What follows is a sample of what bishops throughout Latin America had to say this Holy Week.

In Mexico, a bishop had a unique meeting on Holy Friday

As millions of Catholics around the world joined the Good Friday liturgy commemorating the Passion of the Lord, a bishop in Mexico added a seemingly odd activity to his day, meant to be one of fasting and prayer: a meeting with the leaders of organized crime in Sierra de Guerrero, a mountain region of the Mexican state of Guerrero, on the Pacific coast.

Bishop Salvador Rangel, of the diocese of Chiplancing-Chilapa, said on Monday that during the meeting, the leaders promised to stop murdering candidates for the ongoing electoral process.

Though it is an illegal activity, the region is one of the largest producers of the opium poppy, used in heroin production.

Speaking with the local press, the bishop said he’d gone to the meeting in a helicopter put at his disposal by a drug lord, who, during the meeting, demanded that political leaders live up to the promises they make during the campaign. Rangel said his condition was to stop the murders of politicians who buy people’s votes.

Perhaps illustrative of the situation in the region is the fact that, according to 24 News, Rangel said he’d originally gone to the meeting to ask the drug lord to reconnect the power grid and water supply for a local community, which has been without both for the past 45 days.

He then “took advantage” of the meeting to talk about the murdering of candidates, “and they promised they were going to stop that, that they were going to allow this to be a free election, and that they were going to support what the people chose, without getting in the way. I see this as very important.”

According to Rangel, in order to stop the killings, the drug lord set as a condition that the candidates stop giving money away to buy votes, and instead use that money to improve the living situation of the citizens.

The prelate also defended his right to speak with whomever he wants, including members of organized crime and drug trafficking. This is not the first time he’s met a drug lord. In February, after the murder of two priests in Guerrero, he met with a criminal group to try to save the life of another priest. Then, as now, he refused to disclose the identity of the person he’d met.

“I’m trying to put an end to the murders,” he told a local radio station. “I speak with them, but I don’t ask them for money or a political position. I speak with one side and the other, I only ask them not to kill, not to kidnap, and to treat people well.”

Guerrero is one of the states most hit by organized crime in Mexico. As part of their “strategy,” they try to use their influence in the local governments and the security forces. Several political candidates have been murdered in the region in recent weeks, including a candidate for mayor in Zihuatanejo, in the state’s coastal region, who was shot to death.

Statistics show that in 2017, Guerrero had 2,318 homicides, the highest in the country, and saw 29,158 homicides in 2017, the most murderous year on record, though if the homicide rate of January and February is any indication, it could be even worse this year, since the number is up 21 percent from the same period.

Holy Week was not free of violence either. According to local press reports, an annual procession in Acapulco, in Guerrero, was suspended March 30 after the sound of gunshots sent participants and spectators fleeing. The Guerrero state government said police were chasing a trio of suspected car thieves, however local media say a conflict between criminal groups occurred and two people were killed.

Despite the fact that 83 percent of the Mexican population professes Catholicism, according to the Vatican’s missionary agency, Fides, Mexico is one of the world’s most dangerous countries to be a Catholic priest or missionary, and has held that record for the past decade. Many of the murders in the case of Catholic clergy are directly related to organized crime, and the perpetrators are rarely brought to justice.

With many regions in the country hit by organized crime, social justice was an element present in many of the Easter messages the Mexican bishops sent out this Easter season.

For instance, Archbishop Carlos Garfias Merlos, of Morelia, and president of the Mexican bishops’ conference, sent out an Easter message saying that in the states of Michoacán- bordering Guerrero where his diocese is, and the central state of Guanajuato, are “so hurt and wounded by poverty, marginalization and violence, it’s a commitment and responsibility of everyone to resolutely foment the ‘culture of encounter and peace,’ favoring mercy and dialogue.”

In Paraguay, a call for “responsible” voting

On April 22, Paraguay will hold national elections to choose a new president and parliament, among other positions. Hence, Archbishop Edmundo Valenzuela of the capital city Asunción urged faithful attending the Easter Sunday celebration to be “responsible” with their votes.

According to the Spanish newsangecy EFE, Valenzuela began his homily pointing out that “this Easter time is one of beauty, a spiritual time, of fraternal life, in justice and solidarity.”

Afterwards, the prelate signaled the importance of upcoming elections, saying that votes should be given to candidates who have  “love for the nation, for the family, for life, for the search of the common good, for the dignity of the poor and those who suffer.”

The prelate also spoke during his homily about the upcoming beatification of Carmelite sister María Felicia de Jesús Sacramentado, known as “Chiquitunga,” referring to the event as “transcendental” for the local church. She was closely associated with the Catholic Action movement, spending her life caring for the poor and those who suffered while also serving as a catechist for children.

The beatification- the step previous to recognizing a person’s sainthood- will take place on June 23, making her the first blessed of Paraguay.

From the Chilean church, an appeal to rebuild trust

Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, archbishop of the capital city Santiago, released an Easter message on Saturday evening in which he urged Chileans to overcome “distrust.”

The cardinal said Easter is a celebration to “contemplate the personal and collective history,” in which the peoples wish for a better future, founded in “justice, fraternity and peace.”

Ezzati also said that, in this “spiritual climate of renovation, we welcome the joy of the Risen Lord, and turn to him to discover the inspiration and strength that leads us to overcome distrust and doubt, and to walk towards a more honest and committed faith.”

After a rocky papal visit last January, which, according to many observers, was Pope Francis’s most challenging foreign trip so far due to the case of a local bishop accused by survivors of the country’s most infamous pedophile priest of having covered things up, the local Church is working on rebuilding trust.

In his message, the prelate offered an indirect reference to the recent legalization of abortion in Chile in three contexts – rape, danger of the mother or unviability of the pregnancy- underlining the importance of the “hope” in people: “It arises, new and novel, from the womb of a pregnant mother, by giving birth to the fruit of her womb,” he said.

“It is the hope inscribed in the DNA of each person and that gives Easter eyes capable of looking at death until they see life in it; [looking at] blame until they see forgiveness; [looking at] separation until they see unity; [looking at] wounds until they see the glory; [looking at] man until seeing God, and God until seeing in him the man,” he said.

In Francis’s Argentina, the bishops urged defense of life

Several Argentine bishops went to social media or YouTube to send out Easter messages, most reflecting on the Resurrection while also lamenting what one described as the “difficult” social reality the country is experiencing.

All had a common thread, and that’s the defense of life from the moment it’s conceived until its natural death, in the context of the ongoing debate to legalize abortion until week 14 of the pregnancy and until the ninth month in the case of pre-natal discovery of a disability.

RELATED: In Pope’s Argentina, hundreds of thousands march in defense of life

Bishop Oscar Ojea, president of the bishops’ conference, said that “we have no right to eliminate any life.”

He urged “every Argentine who’s called to life to be able to find their place and that we can create a more human and Christian world to welcome them with dignity.”

“In the Easter sequence, we pray that the death and life met in an admirable battle,” he said. “The king of life was death, and is now alive.”

Cardinal Mario Poli, who succeeded Pope Francis as archbishop of Buenos Aires, said that Easter is the victory of God’s love over hatred and violence, “it’s the victory of the love and life of God over all projects of death, because in Him shines the hope of a happy resurrection.”

Bishop Marcelo Colombo, also in the leadership of the national bishops’ conference, said that amidst hard times, which are apparently barren and full of darkness, “we Christians are live and dynamic signs of a light that comes from God, of a project of love that includes every man, especially the poorest.”

Speaking of the decriminalization of abortion Colombo said that when there’s a debate over life, Christians insist on “defending it, caring for it and sustaining it from the moment it’s conceived in the mother’s womb until natural death.”

“Each life, every life, is sacred,” he said.

Going to the roots of the reasons many women use to justify terminating a pregnancy, Bishop Carlos Malfa of Chascomús said that Argentina has every opportunity to prevent a pregnancy instead of eliminating a new life.

“Of course, it’s necessary to take care of putting an end to the structural poverty that has enslaved us for years,” he said, noting that poverty is not only economic and social, but also the result of a fragmented health system that doesn’t provide women with the necessary help throughout a pregnancy.

“There’s also a lack of education for love and responsible paternity, as well as education in values and an easier path towards adoption,” Malfa said.

In El Salvador, prayers for a murdered priest

Although a day of celebration for Catholics, Easter Sunday had a somber tone in the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Salvador, where Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas grieved the death of Father Walter Vásquez Jimenez, murdered on Holy Thursday.

The 36-year-old priest is the latest victim of a wave of violence that plagues the country. His funeral Mass was held on Easter Sunday in his native Lolotique, in Eastern El Salvador.

RELATED: On Easter, Salvadorans bury priest assassinated during Holy Week

His death echoed in the capital, where Escobar Alas regretted the violence, corruption, drug and weapons trafficking present in the country.

“Unfortunately, we must admit and denounce the sin, injustice, lies, corruption, weapons and drug trafficking and so many social evils, above all the violence that has caused and continues to cause so much pain,” he said.

In that sense, he condemned as “inconceivable” the crime of Vásquez, who was killed on Thursday, after participating in the Chrism Mass.

“It’s not possible that this occurs in a Christian country,” Escobar Alas said, delivering an appeal to the State to make the necessary efforts to fight violence  and urging authorities to shine a light on the murder of the priest and many others.