Argentina: priest receives death threats after speaking out on drugs

 Buenos Aires: Fr Jose Maria Di Paola, better known as 'Fr Pepe,' has received death threats following the recent publication of a document in which local priests denounced the “de facto decriminalization” of drugs in sectors of the capital city.

On Monday, a Mass was held in support of the priest, presided by Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Ojea, and concelebrated by a dozen members of the Team of Priests for the “Villas de Emergencia.” Over 2,000 people attended, showing their support for the priest. Fr Di Paola reiterated at the end of the Mass that he would continuenhis fight, because “we want all the youth to grow in the faith, go to school, have
goals and objectives in life.”

Fr Jose Maria Di Paola has received various signs of support during these days. Over 100 religious superiors, who met April 21-24 in their annual assembly, also issued a declaration manifesting their adhesion to the document “The De Facto Decriminalization of Drugs in the Villas,” which the priests of the area published.

They also showed their solidarity for the priests and their commitment in defense of the weakest in society, denouncing the death threats that several of the priests have received. After mentioning that “many of the religious communities working in this area are witnesses and suffer the reality that the priests clearly describe,” they lament the fact that “this situation is not limited to Buenos Aires alone, but extends throughout the entire country.” The religious also renew their “commitment
to defend all those whose lives are threatened, with a special preference for the poorest of the poor.”

Caritas of Buenos Aires also expressed its solidarity and adhesion with this priest, rejecting “any kind of threat like those suffered by our beloved Father Pepe.”

The Christian Democratic Party of the City of Buenos Aires also expressed its rejection of the threats suffered by Father Di Paola and joins in solidarity with all the priests working in the area of “the Villas.”

“When a person speaks out against hunger, drugs, and weapons, he touches upon certain interests groups who have great power. The regrettable fact is that these groups feel immune to any indictment. Although the State may not be implied in the affair, there is at least omission on their part,” said Javier E. Giangreco, Director of the group Christian Democracy, and brother of one of the priests who signed the document.

On Tuesday, , the priests of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires publicly denounced the threat received by Fr Jose Maria Di Paola and expressed their full support for him.

In the meantime, another priest has received similar death threats for denouncing the situation of drugs in the neighborhoods. Fr Pablo Osow said that he and other priests from Gerli, in south Buenos Aires, “go out to the streets in search of addicts, to offer them help in the parish clinic” and that “a few days ago we received several death threats.”

Source: Fides

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