Death from COVID-19 touches the heart of the Mexican Church.
As of June 18, the official number of people infected with SARS-Cov2 in Mexico reached 159,793 (of which 22,209 are active cases) and 22,209 deaths, placing it, according to the count by Johns Hopkins Medical University, in fifteenth place worldwide for the total number of coronavirus cases and in seventh place for deaths.
With an average infection rate of more than 3,500 people per day, the country’s health authorities have decided to change their “traffic light” from red to orange, which implies the reopening of some “non-essential” activities. However, there is a possibility that, if there is a further increase in the rate of infection in some regions, the reopening will be halted or rolled back.
The Mexican Catholic Church has suffered from the emergency situation and the closure of houses of worship for almost three months. Each state in Mexico is managing the re-opening of the various kinds of activities and locations according to their particular circumstances, often following not only federal directives but also criteria and decisions of their local government. In many regions of the country, churches were expected to start opening sometime this month, applying the necessary measures and limitations to protect the health of attendees. However, in some areas the reopening has been postponed once again, as the number of coronavirus cases has continued to grow.
The number of Mexican priests and religious who have died from the coronavirus has received very little publicity. Fortunately, the Catholic Multimedia Center (CCM), which also keeps track of the statistics of priests murdered, robbed, kidnapped and “disappeared” in Mexico, has taken on the task of investigating and reporting on this painful side of the pandemic.
According to the third report issued by the MCC, the accumulated cases up to the first half of June are 24 priests, four deacons and two religious who have died since the first case was detected in Mexico on February 27, 2020.
“In this third report,” says the MCC, “we give a responsible reckoning of the cases and their verification… Unfortunately, in Mexico the deaths from COVID-19 have become mere numbers, and the authorities have become accustomed to having daily figures that turn into an upward curve.”
The report adds: “These are people, concrete stories, life stories, families who have lost a loved one to the pandemic which has exceeded any optimistic prognosis like the one offered to Mexicans when the first cases occurred last March.”
The Archdiocese of Puebla has suffered the loss of the following priests: José Guadalupe Sanguino Fuentes; Valentín Ramírez Tlahque; Álvaro Ramírez Hernández, Juan Francisco Espino Godínez, Joaquín Fausto Silva Omaña and Rafael Amaro Goiz.
The Diocese of Nezahualcóyotl has lost Frs. Antonino Armendáriz Calderón, Álvaro Gabriel Flores Rodríguez, and Gustavo Arturo Ballesteros Garcíarreal, and permanent deacon José Guadalupe Lozano Sandoval.
For its part, the Diocese of Iztapalapa has lost two priests—José Luis González de Jesús and José Luis Téllez García—as well as permanent deacon Trinidad Cervantes Hernández, while the Archdiocese of Tlalnepantla has lost Frs. Pánfilo Martínez Marroquín and Jesús Hernández Rubio.
In the Archdiocese of Mexico, Divine Word Missionary Rodolfo Rodríguez Reza and Fr. Luciano Vega Murillo have died, while in the Archdiocese of Toluca, Frs. Juan Reza Dávila and Silvestre Pérez Figueroa have died.
In the Archdiocese of León, Fr. Eduardo Hernández Rodríguez died, while in the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, Monsignor David Orozco Loera and Fr. José Trinidad García Alonzo have passed away.
In the Diocese of Texcoco, Fr. Miguel Ángel López Alarcón; in the Diocese of Atlacomulco, Fr. René Flores Colín; in the Diocese of Azcapotzalco, Fr. Alejandro Arellano Becerril; in the Diocese of Xochimilco, permanent deacon Marco Antonio González Bárcena; in the Diocese of Ciudad Obregón, Fr. Sergio Octavio Martínez Enríquez; and in the Diocese of Cuernavaca, permanent deacon Justino Espinoza Martínez and his wife, Linda Díaz.
As for religious sisters, the MCC reports that in the diocese of Veracruz, Sister María Lourdes Pulido Madrigal, a Capuchin Poor Clare, died and in the archdiocese of Puebla, Sister Aldegunda Nolasco Bravo, of the Congregation of Josephine Sisters, died.