Bishop Emeritus Found Hospitalized After Brief Kidnapping

A retired Roman Catholic bishop, noted for his attempts to mediate between violent drug cartels in Mexico, was rescued and hospitalized following a brief abduction, the Mexican Council of Bishops reported on Monday. Monsignor Salvador Rangel, the bishop emeritus of Chilpancingo-Chilapa, a diocese notorious for its violent clashes, disappeared last Saturday, prompting urgent calls for his release.

Monsignor Rangel, who has a history of engaging with gang leaders to quell violence, was taken in Morelos state, bordering Guerrero, where he served. The nature of his kidnapping, termed by officials as “express,” suggests it was a fast operation typically executed by lower-tier criminals demanding smaller ransoms for a swift resolution.

The council did not disclose the details of Rangel’s release or the circumstances of his rescue upon his discovery. Morelos Chief Prosecutor Uriel Carmona did indicate the bishop was in the hospital but did not offer any specific information about his injuries or condition.

Throughout his tenure, Rangel’s efforts to foster peace in one of Mexico’s most tumultuous regions often placed him at significant risk. His recent ordeal is just the latest in a long string of violent incidents involving church officials in Mexico — dating back to at least the tragic 1993 killing of Bishop Juan Posadas Ocampo during a cartel shootout.

In light of the kidnapping, the council had earlier implored the abductors to allow Rangel access to his medications, citing it as “an act of humanity.”

The identity of Rangel’s kidnappers remains unclear. However, authorities suspect involvement from local gangs such as the Tlacos, the Ardillos, and the Familia Michoacana. These groups are notorious in Guerrero and Morelos for their brutal territorial disputes and have been involved in numerous high-profile crimes.

The kidnapping is indicative of the challenges faced by civilized people in the areas dominated by cartel violence. Whatever government efforts have been made to impose peace or mediate in those largely lawless regions have fallen short. Without legitimate government assistance, community leaders and clerics like Rangel have been left to do their best with their limited resources.