Mexican Bishop Emeritus Rescued From Kidnappers Amid Cartel Violence

Monsignor Salvador Rangel, a retired Roman Catholic bishop recognized for his efforts to mediate between violent drug cartels in Mexico, was found alive and hospitalized on Tuesday following a brief kidnapping. The Mexican Council of Bishops reported that Rangel, who serves as the bishop emeritus of the Chilpancingo-Chilapa diocese, disappeared last Saturday prompting urgent calls for his release.

The nature of Rangel’s abduction, termed by officials as “express,” suggests it was a swift operation typically carried out by lower-tier criminals seeking smaller ransoms for a quick resolution. Morelos Chief Prosecutor Uriel Carmona confirmed that the bishop was in the hospital but did not provide specific details about his injuries or condition.

Rangel’s kidnapping highlights the challenges faced by community leaders and clerics who attempt to foster peace in regions dominated by cartel violence. Throughout his tenure, Rangel’s efforts to engage with gang leaders to quell violence often placed him at significant risk.

The council had earlier implored the abductors to allow Rangel access to his medications citing it as “an act of humanity.” While the identity of Rangel’s kidnappers remains unknown, authorities suspect involvement from local gangs such as the Tlacos, the Ardillos and the Familia Michoacana, which are notorious for their brutal territorial disputes in Guerrero and Morelos.

Rangel’s ordeal is the latest in a series 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.