Priest relocated over threats from drug lords in Argentina
The Diocese of Merlo-Moreno in Argentina relocated Father Eduardo Farrell, who has been serving for nine years as pastor of Sacred Heart Church in the Cuartel Quinto municipality in Buenos Aires in order to “protect his physical integrity in face of repeated threats and intimidation.”
The events trace back to Dec. 15, 2016, when the People’s Dignity Movement activist, Cesar Mendez,
from the Cuartel Quinto neighborhood, was shot dead by “transas,” persons connected to the drug world, who had taken over a house.
A week later, the neighbors organized a peaceful march in the Buenos Aires area locality to call for justice for the death of Mendez. Fr. Farrell was the only speaker on that occasion, and from then on the intimidation began.
The statement from the Diocese of Merlo-Moreno released March 13, said that “in recent times numerous persons, believers or not, Church activists or not, have received clear signals that their actions and preaching entailed a nuisance to sectors which operate outside the law.”
“With great concern and deep pain we observe how violence, in its most varied manifestations, is being normalized in our communities. Every day we learn of violent incidents, some extremely serious, such as the loss of human lives,” the statement read.
The message, signed by the Bishop of Merlo-Moreno, Fernando Carlos Maletti; Auxiliary Bishop, Oscar Eduardo Miñarro; and Vicar General, Fr. Fabián Sáenz, warned of the rise in “in the illegal drug trade” along with the “dangerous deterioration of the health of our youth,” and the “brutal confrontations for the control of territory.”
The message noted that work in the prevention of “drug addiction” often “collide with the petty and evil interests of those who only seek territorial power and income at any cost.”
The National Justice and Peace Commission expressed solidarity with the people being threatened “because of their brave opposition to evil” and joined with “those who honestly and disinterestedly seek to overcome the evils in our society.”
In this regard, “the voice of the Diocese of Merlo-Moreno is brave and prophetic because neither indifference nor fear closes their eyes or silences their words in the face of injustice.”
The drug trafficking problem in Argentina already claimed a victim from the clergy of this country in October 2016.
Fr. Juan Heraldo Viroche, pastor of Our Lady of the Valley in Tucuman, was found hanged to death in the rectory after he started publicly denouncing in his homilies the drug gangs in his locality.
The incident led the priests who work in the shantytowns of Buenos Aires to state that “Father Viroche was killed by the mafia he denounced and who threatened him.”