Arturo Lona Reyes
Reyes joined the church in Tehuantepec in 1971. From his early days Reyes began to introduce a more radical critique of the social situations in the surrounding areas. Behind Reyes teachings and beliefs were the teachings of Vatican II, and supporting the creation of a Popular Church, more designed to assist the poor and seek social justice for those in need.
Reyes was asked to resign in 1998. In response Reyes claimed he was being asked to resign due to his support for liberation theology, which advocated economic and political freedom as a means to ensure spiritual freedom. Reyes went on to state Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Jeronimo Prigione were attempting to replace all Mexico bishops that support liberation theology, citing 86 of 100 of the Mexican bishops at the time had been replaced. Reyes went on to proclaim that he would only resign if the Pope requested it of him personally in the presence of two witnesses, later stating:
|“||"I have been putting up with humiliating behavior from these people for 27 years, then they suddenly requested my resignation, but I did not agree. I will not resign. It would be like betraying my people, the priests, and nuns, the women, men, young people, and children,"||”|
In response to Reyes's accusations, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Justo Mullor cited canonical lawm which stated a bishop was to resign at the age of 75. Further accusations were made by Prigione, stating Reyes failed to submit reports to the Vatican since 1971.
The resignation request was the culmination of many accusations having been made in recent years. Reyes had previously complained of accusation made against him, citing him as a Marxist guerrilla and murderer, stating Reyes had engaged in gun-running, fomenting political instability and aiding guerrilla movements. These accusations stemmed from Reyes support of the Coalition of Workers, Peasants, and Students of the Isthmus (COCEI), which the government believed Reyes support directly influenced the groups rapid growth. For instance, in May 1979, Reyes was asked on behalf of COCEI family members who went missing or were taken prisoner, to assist in securing their release, something the government did not look favorably on. In response to the accusation and the Reyes-COCEI relationship, the government closed churches and expelled diocesan workers. The government, however, failed to provide any evidence show a direct link between Reyes and the actions of the COCEI.
On June 29, 1995 gunmen opened fire on Reyes in an assassination attempt. The attack was believed to have been brought on due to his role as chairperson of the Tepeyac Human Rights Centre in Tehuantepec.
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