Ciudad Juarez parish persists despite rampant crime by warring cartels
Published: May 3, 2010
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (CNS) -- In October, unknown thieves stole the bell at the Corpus Christi Parish, which serves a gang- and crime-infested neighborhood of low-wage factory workers and mom-and-pop business owners on the southeastern outskirts of this border city of 1.3 million residents. Parishioners now simulate tolling the bells by striking a pair of empty propane tanks with an axe handle. "I'm glad they took the bell instead of something in the sanctuary," says Father Roberto Luna, Corpus Christi's pastor, who was forced to add extra locks and bars to secure his parish. Such are the challenges of parish life in churches throughout Ciudad Juarez, where warring drug cartels and competition among gangs have turned many neighborhoods into high-crime areas. Ciudad Juarez, which borders El Paso, Texas, has recorded an estimated 5,100 murders since 2008, making it the most dangerous city in the hemisphere. The violence has left few people and institutions unscathed. Parishes have been robbed and vandalized. Father Luna says prelates have been targeted, too, because they might possess something of value.
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