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Catholic Priests In Mexico Encourage Country To 'Forgive' Narco Killers

A group of priests in Mexico are delivering a controversial message: Mexicans should forgive their brothers and sisters, even those involved in the drug trade who may have killed their family members.

The message was delivered during a Sunday homily in Mexico City, but it was also delivered in a dramatic video making the rounds on the Internet.

The short film is called "Hermano Narco" and it tells the story of a 13-year-old girl whose parents are massacred by a drug gang. To add insult to injury, the gang crashes the funeral, but the girl decides to forgive them saying that perhaps someone had done the same thing to their parents and no one bothered to give them a hug.

As the AP frames the story, this is a hot-button issue for a country that has seen an estimated 70,000 people dead as a result of drug violence.

The Mexican political site Animal Político quotes Rev. Sergio Omar Sotelo, one the priests who organized the campaign.

"The message of 'Hermano Narco' is that we should strive for common good among Mexicans," he said. "Enough with the violence among brothers, enough with the injustice among brothers ... Violence begets more violence. Today we launched a message that said: the most profound sentiment, the one that will transform violence is forgiveness.

"The efforts of the government, focused on a military and reactive response, have shown to be impotent," Sotelo said.

The AP spoke to Isabel Miranda de Wallace, a mother who led a decade-long fight to bring the gang that kidnapped and killed her son to justice.

"There are a lot of people who cannot even mourn because we haven't found the bodies of our relatives," she told the AP. "So how are you going to go through the process of loss and reach forgiveness if you can't even get justice?"

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.