So long, Father Mark!

Will Mark Montebello be as outspoken in Saltillo as he was in Malta?


For me, the more important news yesterday was hardly the funeral of Guido de Marco. It was the news that outspoken Dominican Mark Montebello was given a ‘transfer’ to Saltillo, Mexico where is expected to ‘work directly under the wing of Dominican Archbishop Raul Vera’.

I could not resist the temptation to look up Saltillo and its Dominican Archbishop on the internet. The sites that advertise the town for its touristic potential describe it as follows: ‘The quiet city of Saltillo is located in the Mexican state of Coahuila which is about 400km south of Texas and just west of Monterrey. Located in the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range it is 1600 meters above sea level which makes its climate dry with hot summers and cool winters.’

But, as in all Mexican cities near the US border, drug trafficking also take its toll on Saltillo. In fact earlier this year, a major regional newspaper published in Saltillo announced it would stop covering drug violence altogether after the body of reporter Valentin Valdes was found with a threatening message. Valdes had reported the arrests of suspected drug traffickers.

Even more interesting is what Montebello’s new boss had to say in an interview with the ‘Reforma’ newspaper on election day, Sunday July 4. According to reports Raul Vera Lopez, Bishop of the Saltillo Coahuila Diocese said the upsurge in violence in the states is derived from agreements between the drug cartels and elected officials, whether motivated by corruption and greed or just plain fear.

When asked about the elections on in 14 states he stressed that “what matters is not what happens today, the problem is what will follow.” The prelate considered the situation grave in that many election winners will come into power with arrangements already in place with organized crime to enable them to operate without problems. He argued that many journalists are controlled by the drug cartels and fail to report allegations of crimes related to their operations

What is even more interesting is how Archbishop Vera ended up in Saltillo… According to a report published in January 2000 in the ‘Catholic New Times’ - a now defunct Canadian Catholic newspaper - “on December 22, the second anniversary of the massacre of 45 indigenous women, men and children, the voice of Raul Vera Lopez rose strongly as he demanded respect for religious freedom and laws to impede paramilitary groups. Eight days later, no longer the coadjutor bishop of San Cristobal and designated successor to Samuel Ruiz, Bishop Vera Was on a plane to Rome for consultations prior to taking up a new appointment as bishop of Saltillo in north eastern Mexico.”

The report goes on: “In Mexico, the announcement on December 30 of Pope John Paul II's decision to remove Bishop Vera from San Cristobal set off a storm of controversy and a wave of disappointment. A statement by the diocese's pastoral council said the removal of Bishop Vera would "profoundly challenge our faith and our sense of church because we feel it abruptly interrupts the process of integration" of a new bishop.

A noted ally of Bishop Ruiz, Bishop Arturo Lona Reyes of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, confessed his surprise upon hearing the news of Bishop Vera's transfer: "I am sorry about this. The rumours have been around for months. I regret the Pope's decision because I think the news that reached him was manipulated and that he was misinformed.”

So there you have it: Mark Montebello’s new boss knows all about how the Church works and takes decisions on transfers of its members from one place to another. A more recent report, this time in the ‘La Prensa San Diego’ of April 2, 2010 gives a glimpse of the atmosphere in which Archbishop Raul Vera guards and guides his flock: “In a phone interview with ‘Frontera NorteSur’, Bishop Raul Vera of Saltillo, Coahuila, charged Mexican police officers and National Migration Institute (INM) officials were involved in criminal rings that kidnap migrants en route to the US and, under torture, force victims to disclose relatives' names and phone numbers in order to collect ransoms ranging from $6,000-$8,000. If family members cannot pay rescue demands, Bishop Vera said, the kidnappers ‘force (victims) to sell organs from their bodies.’”

The Church, of course, is no democratic institution, but it does not force anyone to obey it. There is always the option of abandoning it – something that I am sure Mark Montebello would not think of doing. Instead, he now has an outspoken boss in a region of the world where criminality, politics and the Catholic faith somehow manage to survive side by side. From what I read, Archbishop Vera is no compromiser… but then neither is Mark Montebello! Will Mark Montebello be as outspoken in Saltillo as he was in Malta?

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Clayton Saliba
The Catholic Church has an administration to provide for a Billion people, that’s four times the American populations and includes diversity beyond imagination. Father Montebello was cocooned in a localised culture and whose beliefs and opinions would not do justice to the Administration of a Billion people from different stages of development and cultures. I respect those that join the church to serve, exactly as our Lord Jesus did – he came to serve and not to be served. He took no advantage of the local culture but served the foreign in the same way. In the same way, St Paul even more than others, dedicated his life to travel and serve rather than preach to the converted – so Father Montebello will be enriched by his experience in Mexico, where good people are needed more today as the whole country is going through difficult times with the large numbers of daily homicides by cartels more powerful than the authorities. Let us pray for Fr Montebello to retain his strength amidst this new challenging period of his holy orders.
Joe Tanti
Tisma u taqra dwar dawn il grajjiet ; it transfers ta patri mark montebello,ta l-isqof Vera u ta Maciel pedofilu,drogat u stupratur ta "uliedu" tghid din il knisja li rid Sidna Gesu Kristu? Ghall dawn l-affariejit iridu jaghmluu lil Karol Vojtila qaddis issa? Mhux ta bxejn il knisja Kattolika sejra lura bhal granc.Nahseb dan hu il-bidu ta tmiem tal knisja kattolika,knisja li tidher li qed taghlaq wiednejja ghal karbiet tal popolin komuni u izjed tati wieden ghal pedofili fi hdanna,tal kapitalisti li stannew min fuq dahar iz-zghir,il-fqir,knisja li qed tallaq ghajnejja ghal certi problemi fis socjeta ghax tibqa konservativa u rigresiva.Jekk il-knisja ma ijiex se taggorna ghaz zminijiet tallum sejra tispicca kif spiccaw imperi li ma imxewx ma l-progress.Hemm bzonn li jerga jkun hemm aggornament fuq ic-celibat,pedofilja u anke zwiegijit.
Prosit Michael. Sewwa, dejjem nisimghu iktar: il-Papa Voytiwa hares lill-Maciel, fundatur tal-Legjunarji ta' Kristu, pedofila, drogat, welled bosta tfal, akkuzat minn ibnu li prova jistuprah, u warrab lil Raul Vera. Miskin wehel b'kollox Papa Ratzinger imbaghad. Mhux dejjem qbilt ma Mark Montebello, anzi, izda dejjem hassejt li fittex jaghraf it-triq ta' Kristu u jimxieha. Bhal kull bniedem iehor, inkluz jien, seta' zbalja. Ma kellux is-superficjalita faccola li nara mkejjen ohra. Nixtieqlu kull gid u nitlob ghalih