Latin America: Mexican Catholic Church in Narco-Dollar Embarrassment

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Several Mexican bishops this week strongly denied that the Catholic Church accepts donations from drug dealers, backtracking furiously away from remarks by the president of the Mexican bishops' conference, who said drug traffickers have been "very generous" to the church.

Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Texcoco, president of the Mexican bishops' conference, made headlines last weekend when he acknowledged that the drug trafficking organizations responsible for murder and mayhem across the country provided money for churches and other public works in some of the country's poorest villages.

"They are generous and often they provide money for building a church or chapel," Bishop Aguiar said after the bishops' conference meeting April 1-4. "In the communities where they work... they will install electricity, establish communication links, highways (and) roads," he said in comments that received nationwide media attention. Aguiar said he was not condoning drug trafficking, just "saying how it is."

The drug dealers come to church officials seeking spiritual solace, Aguiar said. "There has been a rapprochement with them as it's known that discretion is going to be kept," Bishop Aguiar said. "What they want is to encounter peace in their consciences. What they're going to get from us is a sharp response: Change your life."

This week, Mexican bishops lined up to deny they took drug money. Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City said the church condemns drug trafficking as a social evil and that it never accepts drug money. "The money that comes from narcotics trafficking is ill-gotten and therefore can't be cleaned through charity projects," he said in a Sunday statement released by the archdiocese.

Auxiliary Bishop Marcelino Hernández Rodríguez of Mexico City and Archbishop José Martín Rábago of León, former head of the Mexican bishop's conference, also joined the chorus. Hernández said that narco-donations to the church were unacceptable, while Martín said that while the church preaches salvation, it does not condone drug trafficking and would not accept "dirty money."

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drug money

What about America's political elite who accept money from pharmaceutical companies. Aren't they guilty for the same crime by accepting funds from a group guilty of pushing un-needed, overpriced, psycho-active drugs to people who don't really require drug treatment?

David Dunn's picture

Drug Money Launderer?

So is the Mexican Roman Catholic Church going to become a vehicle through which the Mexican drug cartel launders its money?

If so, that will certainly gladden the hearts and fatten the pocketbooks of Mexican bankers. I'm sure they will gleefully accept laundered drug money much as their American banker counterparts do.

"Dirty money?" I thought the Catholic Church considered money amoral. They would take it regardless of where it came from.

What about money from the fossil fuel people? Doesn't the havoc such fuels cause to the environment make that money "dirty money"?

The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.

— Thomas Jefferson

Narco-Dollars: No Guilt on the Receiving End

Narco-dollar Church donations are nothing new. The Sicilian Cosa Nostra, along with virtually every other mafia don throughout history, has channeled money into Church coffers.

In fact, the 70s and 80s building boom for office and hotel high-rises in downtown Los Angeles was largely financed using narco-dollars laundered through Panama. The present skyline of LA would probably look very different today were it not for cocaine.

As for the PR value of donations or building churches in Mexico, this is standard operating procedure involving not only drug runners, but also guerilla soldiers whose objective is to gain good will from villages when their help is needed in hiding out or taking out the targeted government.

Mobster John Gotti was well known for his charity to his old neighborhood. He even set off fireworks displays at special events. BTW, when asked at one of his criminal trials if he and his associates were involved in drug smuggling, Gotti replied “No. We can’t compete with the government.”


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