Where on earth is Mark Montebello?

Fr Mark Montebello – prison rights activist and outspoken Dominican friar – is thousands of miles away from the sensitive ears of the Maltese, a sensitivity which his order’s superior Fr Carlos Aspiroz Costa claims he has offended for his statements on divorce among other things.

Those close to Montebello, 46, say that although the radical cleric has been silent about his three-month sojourn in Saltillo, he was not eager about his Mexican trip.

“It was not his decision entirely,” a person close to the Mid-Dlam ghad-Dawl Prison Fellowship says. “The archbishop was keen on seeing him out of public sight for some time.”

Montebello is truly a thorn in the side of the Archbishop’s Curia. He refuses to align himself with popular views which, in the view of the Maltese Church, are not fitting of priests in the island.

In November 2009, he stated that he disagreed with a paedophile register; he defended the Nigerian Monday Iseki, who was charged with resisting arrest; and he even claimed Jesus was in favour of divorce; and adding fuel to the fire was his claim that Crucifixes did not need to be “flaunted” in public buildings – referring to the crucifix ban case raging in Italy.

Unlike 2005, when he was banned from speaking publicly because he said Pope Benedict’s appointment was “a sick joke” – the archbishop was then Joseph Mercieca – Montebello has now been temporarily exiled. It’s similar to the treatment of clergymen accused of paedophilia: transfers to quiet parishes, but no prosecution. Not in the Catholic church.


But where on earth is Mark Montebello?

Saltillo, just outside Monterrey, in Mexico, is right now in the news. A drug war rages, dozens are being found dead, murdered and decapitated in the Mexican desert – journalists, politicians, priests, and those who stand up to the might of the drug warlords.

The spiralling drug-war has claimed the life of a prominent mayor, kidnapped Sunday and found dead Wednesday this week. Edelmiro Cavazos, 38, was mayor of Santiago, a picturesque tourist town near Monterrey, Mexico’s third-largest city and an industrial hub. He was grabbed from his gated home late Sunday by at least 15 gunmen wearing uniforms of a defunct police agency who arrived in a convoy of sport-utility vehicles, with patrol lights flashing.

Cavazos and a bodyguard apparently left the home to see what the members of the convoy wanted. Both were overpowered and bundled into the vehicles. The guard was released a short time later. Cavazos’ bound, blindfolded body was found dumped alongside a rural road Wednesday morning

Inside Saltillo, the bishop Raúl Vera López is a human rights activist who has taken a clear stand against what he calls the abundance of ‘narco’ politicians”.

Vera Lopez speaks openly, claiming the the upsurge in violence in Mexico is derived from agreements between the drug cartels and elected officials, motivated by corruption or just plain fear. Even journalists, he says, are controlled by the drug cartels and fail to report drug crimes.

“The bad thing is that when a ruler has a commitment to one drug cartel, other cartels will come and begin fighting among themselves. The worst thing is for a state government to commit to a particular cartel because people from other cartels become much more fierce and begin to wage war for the ‘plaza’ or territory,” he said.

Bishop Vera Lopez is an outspoken champion of human rights throughout Mexico and Central America. After the Zapastista uprising in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, the wealthy landowners of Chiapas successfully conspired with the Mexican government and others to have the Vatican remove Bishop Raul Vera Lopez, who had replaced Bishop Samuel Ruiz – the “red bishop” – because of his strong stand for indigenous rights.

Ruiz himself had been forced to name a “conservative” coadjunctor – Raul Vera Lopez – in 1997. To everyone’s surprise, and to the delight of some, the conservative Vera converted to Ruiz’s position. 

Vera Lopez has been threatened by the Mexican military for his advocacy on behalf of 13 female sex trade workers allegedly raped by Mexican soldiers in Saltillo.


The Mexican drug war

The armed conflict taking place between rival drug cartels and government forces in Mexico has intensified greatly since the demise of Colombia's Cali and Medellín cartels in the 1990s. Mexican drug cartels now dominate the wholesale illicit drug market in the United States.

On Friday, an official investigating this week's massacre of 72 migrants went missing, while possible car bomb explosions rocked a TV station and police station in the same violence-torn state of Tamaulipas.

Tamaulipas officials said Roberto Suarez, an agent for the state prosecutor's office involved in the investigation, went missing Wednesday. That was a day after Mexican marines found the slain migrants on a ranch outside the town of San Fernando.

The US State Department estimates that 90% of cocaine entering the United States transits Mexico, with Colombia being the main cocaine producer, and that wholesale of illicit drug sale earnings estimates range from $13.6 billion to $48.4 billion annually.

For years Central America has been a transit route for cocaine trafficked north from the Andes, but analysts and officials say Mexican cartels are now buying up land, storing arms and drugs, and hiring members of local criminal networks in Central America to help them move and sell drugs.



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The pope would not allow or even consider that priests get married, therefore those priests who fall in love have to renounce their vocation in order to follow their heart. This the church does not mind , losing good upright man who do a lot of good to the church and its aims, but when it comes to Peadophile priest these are hidden away and allowed on as priest even thou they are a disgrace to the church and to Christ Himself. I do believe in forgiveness and repentance of such priest but they should be defrocked and not allowed to shame the church even with their presence. As for the likes of Fr Mark their isn't a better way to silence the voice of the masses, as in a good old fashion conservative manner , ship them to some dandgerous place and if they don't return then it's God's will.
Luke Camilleri
Why? because he is outspoken and not only a thorn in the side of the Archbishop’s Curia but also not looked favourably upon by the coutry's administration for his exposure of the other side of the coin away from what the Deceiver wants to portray the goings on in the media?
Francis Jude Cutajar
Jien hemm fejn naqbel ma father Mark u hemm fejn ma naqbilx pero li tibghatu f'halq il mewt mhux sewwa u l'angas hi haga KRISTJANA.Mela l Arcisqof u ta madwaru ma ghandhomx internet sabies ikunu jafu f'liema periklu tefawh.Dan x'genn hu.
You are right Patrick. If they had sent the sexual perverts in the church to a Mexican war zone - it would still have been wrong, but it would have been more ethical then moving them to new parishes where they continue to abuse again and again. These priests were not moved to protect the kids - but to protect the priest and the church - the kids continued to be victimized. Montebello at least is following in the steps on Jesus Christ and not in the steps of the 'Holy' Roman Empire. I don't have much time for the hocus pocus bullshit that religion generally is, but at least Montebello is honest in his own believes. What did whole disgusting state of affairs points to however is that the church has EASY ACCESS TO CHILDREN. In ancient times they used to occasionally sacrifice children and even the old testament has a go at this - and we still continue to do the same within the confines of our civilization - giving up our kids to the church from an early age - sacrificing their minds and personality. Let the church teach kids starting from age 16 and then we'll see how many will take on its believe system without a question. We have age limits for driving and drinking - why not for something as important as religion then ?
"It’s similar to the treatment of clergymen accused of paedophilia: transfers to quiet parishes, but no prosecution." Not exactly. It is true that the church officials never reported cases of child abuse to the proper authorities (police). Thus apart from being guilty of "perverting the course of justice", church officials also continued to protect the paedophile priests by sending them to another unsuspecting locality (not Mexico) where the paedophiles, in many cases, started abusing children again. Can the church be more holy than that?
Albert Zammit
I am not a fan of Mark Montebello, but if anything had to happen to him while in Mexico, his blood will be on Archbishop Cremona's hands and he will have a lot to answer for.
Micael Beerman
Martin Scicluna
I do not know why Fr. Mark Montebello is in other country he ios fooling around
Look at the name of the order's superior, Fr Carlos Aspiroz Costa. Reminds you of the Spanish Inquisition.
I would like to share with your readers that I was watching live the mass they held for Pope John Paul's death and guess who was one of the speaker at that mass? The current pope used the occasion to set out the course the church must take. I remember distinctly that the Italian journalist covering the event said that Razonger had just nominate as the right candidate for the next pope. Loo an behold, a few days later the holy spirit must have agreed with Razinger's self proclamation because sure enough that Italian journalist had understood (and reported) correctly what was going on during that mass. There then followed a period where a number of people came forward 'SHOCKED' that razinger was appointed a pope. These were all systematically silenced and dropped out of view. Well we have sent out plenty of child molesters out of this country - maybe this time around we sent a martyr.