Outspoken Bishop Raul Vera Tackles Mexico's Organized Crime and Corruption
David Agren - USA Today
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July 13, 2013

Raul Vera, left, Bishop of Saltillo, and Javier Sicilia take part in a march for peace in Cuernavaca, Mexico, on May 5, 2011.(Gustavo Graf/Getty Images)

MEXICO CITY — Bishop Raúl Vera cast a vote in Sunday's local elections, then told the faithful: don't back candidates associated with organized crime.

Such admonishments have been rare from Catholic leaders in Mexico, who have mostly stayed silent on security issues and preferred not to upset the authorities or drug cartels — even as organized crime violence claimed more than 60,000 lives over the past six years and church officials fended off allegations they accepted donations from drug cartels.

The admonishment was vintage Vera, spoken plainly by a prelate less concerned with offending politicians than promoting the protection of human rights and providing pastoral attention to those not always welcome in the church — including gays — or neglected by the authorities, such as the victims of organized crime violence.

"In the ecclesiastical hierarchy, his is a minority position," says Ilán Semo, political historian at the Jesuit-run Iberoamerican University in Mexico City.

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