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The Catholic Church and the irresistible power of Mexico's narco culture

Catholic Church

Growing up Catholic in Michoacan state, Alberto Cornejo always marveled at the beauty of the Gothic cathedral in his hometown of Zamora. He watched as workers installed spires, repaired the aging pillars and kept the floors polished.
The constant care and remodeling cost a lot of money and not all of it, he’s convinced, came from legitimate sources. “Narcos have looked out for our pueblos and our churches,” said Cornejo, a 48-year-old cellphone salesman. “It shouldn’t be, but it’s the reality.”
That belief, true or not, is widespread in parishes large and small across the country. Confronted with the expansion of organized crime groups, Catholic Church leaders have faced tough choices and more than a few have given in to traffickers, either cowed or complicit in taking tainted money.