Head of drug war-torn Mexican diocese to become a cardinal

Pope Francis announced Jan. 4 that among the 20 men who will be named cardinals at the next consistory is Archbishop Alberto Suarez Inda of Morelia, who has worked for peace amid the ongoing drug war in Mexico.
Since 1995, Archbishop Suarez has led the Archdiocese of Morelia, the capital of Michoacan state in central Mexico. The state has seen much violence and tension in recent years due to the role of drug cartels; nine died Jan. 6 during fighting between government soldier and local gunmen in Apatzingan, located 110 miles from Morelia.
Archbishop Suarez was born in 1939 in Celaya, in Mexico’s Guanajuato state. He began studies at Morelia’s seminary in 1953, and in 1958 travelled to Rome to study philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He was ordained a priest of the Morelia archdiocese in 1964.
In 1985, he was consecrated as Bishop of Tacambaro, and in 1995 was transferred to the Archdiocese of Morelia. He is currently 75, and will celebrate his 76th birthday on Jan. 30.
Archbishop Suarez responded to Pope Francis’ decision to “look upon my poor person, to call me to form part of the College of Cardinals of the Roman Church” in a Jan. 7 column at Mi Morelia.
“Truly it is something that on the one side overwhelms me, scares me, but I have also found that it encourages me greatly, through the love, the joy of the people who have congratulated me. Thousands of persons have greeted me by various means, on the streets, in the churches, through emails and phone calls, messages; so I also feel very comforted to be a cardinal, I understand that it is more than an honor, rather it is a dignity, truly it is a responsibility, a task the bishop must fulfil in full communion with the Bishop of Rome.”
According to a Catholic News Agency report, the archbishop added that his primary service will remain that offered for the Archdiocese of Morelia.
He told the Mexico City daily Excelsior Jan. 5 that his nomination as a cardinal “can be seen as a sign of the Pope’s affection for this region of Mexico, for the Diocese of Morelia, as a sign of confidence in his servant, but most of all as a new phase in the Christian life of each of us.”
Archbishop Suarez’ niece, Rosa Maria Suarez de Mendoza, told the publication that her uncle’s nomination “made us very happy; the whole family has come to greet him, to hug him, because this is great news for all of us, knowing that my uncle will be a cardinal,” adding that it is like a crown upon his “great background as a pastor and a leader in the Church.”
Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico thanked Pope Francis for naming a fellow Mexican as cardinal, and the Mexican bishops conference called the appointment “a gesture of love and closeness with our country.”
“We congratulate the Archdiocese of Morelia for this distinction and ask Holy Mary of Guadalupe to intercede for our new cardinal, whose generous pastoral work we recognize with gratitude.”

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