Mexico: Needing A Word From Pope Francis


Date:  February 3, 2016

by Elizabeth Kendal 

Pope Francis will visit Mexico for a six-day tour over 12-17 February. His 
itinerary will include visits to poor and indigenous communities and his 
message will 'highlight issues of economic justice, migration, drug-related 
violence and the rights of indigenous peoples'. His tour will commence in the 
south and end in the far north, in Ciudad Juarez, from where he will enter 
the US, apparently in solidarity with migrants. While in Ciudad Juarez Pope 
Francis will visit a prison to meet with prisoners. Though not on the agenda, 
hopefully he might also get to meet Ciudad Juarez's angels: poor Protestant 
youths, from a small evangelical church known as 'Psalm 100', who risked 
their lives to present a message of repentance and righteousness to Ciudad 
Juarez's drug-trafficking murderers, and in doing so changed their city. [See 
Religious Liberty Monitoring (Feb 2012)]  

Though Mexico is overwhelmingly Catholic (around 80 percent of the 
population), the Catholic Church is in decline, riddled as it is with the 
rapidly growing Satanic cult of Santa Muerle (Saint Death) and the syncretism 
so prevalent in historically animist indigenous communities. In this context, 
Protestant Christianity has grown from 4.9 percent of the population in 1990 
to 7.6 percent in 2010, arousing jealousy and angst in the Catholic Church. 
Though Mexico has excellent religious freedom laws, the situation on the 
ground is far from satisfactory and Protestants are in the firing line. 
Sometimes the persecution is incited by jealous Catholic clergy. At other 
times it is driven by fear that Protestant refusal to participate in idol 
worship or animist rituals will attract the wrath of belligerent spirits. 
More often than not it is a mixture of both.  

In the most recent case, Baptist officials have confirmed that ten Baptist 
families, comprising 18 adults and 10 children, have been expelled from 
Tuxpan de Bolanos, an indigenous Huichol community in the north of Jalisco 
State. (Some reports give double these numbers.) In December the village 
assembly adopted a resolution vowing to expel the Baptists if they did not 
return to Roman Catholicism, which the assembly described as 'the traditional 
faith'. Even though state and federal government officials and the Jalisco 
State Human Rights Commission were alerted, no action was taken to save the 
believers from forced displacement. On 26 January the Protestants were 
informed a truck would come to their homes to take them away. They were 
warned that if they failed to co-operate they would be lynched. According to 
the National Baptist Convention of Mexico (NBCM), after being taken away by 
the truck the group was 'abandoned' in the mountains. The NBCM collected the 
believers and transported them to safety in Puente de Camotlan, in 
neighbouring Nayarit.  

Such persecution occurs frequently in Mexico, especially in indigenous 
communities. Despite Mexico's excellent religious freedom provisions, 
persecution persists primarily because the country's laws are not upheld and 
the persecutors are never punished but are protected by Catholic officials. 
If Pope Francis really believes in justice and really cares about indigenous 
peoples and the poor, then he should raise his voice of authority and call 
for an end to Roman Catholic persecution of Mexico's Protestant Christians, 
most of whom are poor and indigenous.  


* God, our merciful father, will provide for the displaced Baptists of Tuxpan 
de Bolanos, supplying all their needs and securing justice on their behalf. 

'Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are 
his people, and the sheep of his pasture. . . . For the Lord is good; his 
steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.' 
(Psalm 100:3,5 ESV)

* Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, will lead and guide Mexico's Protestants, 
especially their local shepherds/pastors, as they risk much to offer life and 
hope to a troubled land and a desperately needy people.  Lord, in your grace 
and mercy, continue to bless their courageous, sacrificial and costly 

* the Holy Spirit will move Pope Francis to raise his authoritative Catholic 
voice in defence of religious freedom and in the cause of justice, for the 
sake of Mexico's mostly poor and indigenous, persecuted Protestants. 


Last week's RLPB 341 reported that the Three Self Patriotic Movement (China's 
official Church) and China Christian Council (official organisation) had 
dismissed Pastor 'Joseph' Gu Yuese as pastor of the 10,000-strong TSPM 
Chongyi Church in the Zhejiang capital, Hangzhou, after he criticised the 
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) policy of removing crosses in Zhejiang. On 27 
January police arrested Pastor Gu at his home and placed him in secret 
detention where he is reportedly being investigated for corruption. According 
to reports, 'The incident has sparked significant uproar in the Christian 
community in China.' As China Aid head Bob Fu told the BBC, the charges are 
nothing more than 'political revenge' for disloyalty to the CCP. Please pray. 

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