"With the Incarnation, God dwells in this world. Certainly, there is still injustice, pain, war, organized crime, insecurity, but this world is inhabited by God. God continues to inspire desires to love; there are mothers nursing their children, people expressing love, supportive hands, individuals seeking justice and building peace, caretakers of creation, and families searching for their missing loved ones. People remain interested in the progress of humanity. We say "Merry Christmas" because we can live in the confidence that God still believes in humanity, not leaving it orphaned - His Son is one of us. He dwells in this world and has the ability to illuminate it." - Pepe Magaña, SJ
I hope this message finds you in good health and high spirits. It's hard to believe. I've been back in Mexico for a little over a year, collaborating with Father Salvador López Mora, a member of the Urban Pastoral team (founded by Father Benjamín Bravo). Salvador and I have worked together in various periods since 1990. This time, we are focusing on urban pastoral care and supporting families with missing relatives.
As you probably know from international news, the disappearance crisis continues to be part of a broader pattern of criminal violence driven by a plague of organized crime, involvement/support, or acquiescence of state actors in criminal activities. On average, one person disappears every hour. Disappearances often occur with the direct or indirect involvement of government agents. The context of impunity in Mexico has significantly contributed to the disappearance crisis.
My current pastoral ministry has led me to reconnect with parents of missing persons whom I knew ten years ago. Disillusioned by the lack of action, sensitivity, and empathy from authorities, the endless delays in the justice system, and questioning the credibility of their missing relatives, they have organized into collectives and taken to the streets to raise awareness and advocate for change. Family collectives such as United Forces for Our Disappeared (FUNDEC in Spanish), Uniting Hopes, and Citizens in Support of Human Rights (CADHAC in Spanish) search for their loved ones in channels, rivers, fields, and mountainous areas across many parts of the country. Currently, it is estimated that around 200 collectives are operating and collaborating across different regions of the country.
So, I joined the Eje de Iglesias (Churches Axis), National Search Brigade. The Churches Axis National Search Brigade is ecumenical. We are a team from various faith traditions and spiritualities: Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Quaker, Mennonite, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Covenant. This ministry is also supported by members of religious congregations: Missionary Carmelites of Saint Teresa, Society of Jesus, Sisters of Jesus and Mary, Incarnate Word, Passionists, etc. We are committed to accompanying families searching for their missing relatives from a perspective of faith and peace-building.
Additionally, we are part of the National Network of Family Collectives in search of missing relatives.
Currently, more than 130,000 people have been missing since 1962. Moreover, from January 2007 to April 2023, Mexican authorities reported the discovery of 5,698 clandestine graves nationwide. The map of anonymous graves highlights one of the criminals' favored tactics in these times of the war on drugs and organized crime: "disappearing" individuals, concealing their death and fate. Faced with this reality, alongside collective leaders and supportive individuals like us in the Churches Axis National Search Brigade, we seek to prevent violence, raise awareness, and maximize the impact and search capabilities of collectives.
Let's continue seeking the justice that builds peace; let's remain caretakers of the common home; let's stay committed to the progress of humanity.
Paz y bien,
Miriam Bannon, CCVI