Arturo Lona Reyes

Arturo Lona Reyes

Arturo Lona Reyes (born November 1, 1925) is the former Catholic bishop from Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico. He served in his position for 30 years before resigning from his diocese in 2001.[1]

Tehuantepec diocese

Reyes joined the church in Tehuantepec in 1971. From his early days Reyes began to introduce a more radical critique of the social situations in the surrounding areas. Behind Reyes teachings and beliefs were the teachings of Vatican II, and supporting the creation of a Popular Church, more designed to assist the poor and seek social justice for those in need.[2]

Arturo Lona Reyes was asked to resign in 1998, in response Reyes claimed he was being asked to resign due to his support for liberation theology, which advocated economic and political freedom as a means to ensure spiritual freedom.[1] Reyes went on to state Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Jeronimo Prigione were attempting to replace all Mexico bishops that support liberation theology, citing 86 of 100 of the Mexican bishops at the time had been replaced. Reyes went on to proclaim that he would only resign if the Pope requested it of him personally in the presence of two witnesses,[1] later stating:

"I have been putting up with humiliating behavior from these people for 27 years, then they suddenly requested my resignation, but I did not agree. I will not resign. It would be like betraying my people, the priests, and nuns, the women, men, young people, and children,"

In response to Reyes's accusations, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Justo Mullor, cited canonical law which stated a bishop was to resign at the age of 75, further accusations were made by Prigione, stating Reyes failed to submit reports to the Vatican since 1971.[3]


The resignation request was the culmination of many accusations having been made in recent years. Reyes had previously complained of accusation made against him, citing him as a Marxist guerrilla and murderer,[4] stating Reyes had engaged in gun-running, fomenting political instability and aiding guerrilla movements. These accusations stemmed from Reyes support of the Coalition of Workers, Peasants, and Students of the Isthmus (COCEI), which the government believed Reyes support directly influenced the groups rapid growth.[5] For instance, In May 1979, Reyes was asked on behalf of COCEI family members who went missing or were taken prisoner, to assist in securing their release, something the government did not look favorably on.[6] In response to the accusation and the Reyes-COCEI relationship, the government closed churches and expelled diocesan workers. The government however failed to provide any evidence show a direct link between Reyes and the actions of the COCEI.[5]

On June 29, 1995, gunmen opened fire on Reyes in an assassination attempt. The attack was believed to have been brought on due to his role as chairperson of the Tepeyac Human Rights Centre in Tehuantepec.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Allen, John L. (2001). Pope Benedict XVI: A Biography of Joseph Ratzinger. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 170. ISBN 0826413617. 
  2. ^ Cleary, Edward L.; Timothy J. Steigenga (2004). Resurgent Voices in Latin America: Indigenous Peoples, Political Mobilization, and Religious Change. Rutgers University Press. pp. 154, 160. ISBN 0813534615. 
  3. ^ "Mexican Bishop Refuses To Resign From Diocese". Catholic World News. October 9, 1998. Retrieved 2008-04-30. 
  4. ^ Camp, Roderic Ai (1997). Crossing Swords: Politics and Religion in Mexico. Oxford University Press US. pp. 218, 273, 274, 316. ISBN 0195107845. 
  5. ^ a b Grayson, George W. (1990). Prospects for Democracy in Mexico. Transaction Publishers. pp. 119, 120. ISBN 0887388094. 
  6. ^ Rubin, Jeffrey W. (1997). Decentering the Regime: Ethnicity, Radicalism, and Democracy in Juchitán, Mexico. Duke University Press. pp. 141. ISBN 0822320630. 
  7. ^ Central America: International human rights day: Amnesty International appeals on behalf of human rights defenders in Central America and Mexico. AI INDEX AMR 02/05/96. Amnesty International. December 10, 1996. 

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