VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope John Paul II has accepted the resignation of prominent 75 year-old Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia of San Cristobal de las Casas in Mexico, and has named the bishop of another diocese in the Mexican state of Chiapas to replace him.
In accordance with canon law, Bishop Ruiz submitted his resignation when he turned 75 in November.
Bishop Ruiz is well known for his work among the indigenous people of Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state. But by defending the indigenous poor, he has also angered large landowners and the state and federal governments, who have accused him of fomenting the armed rebellion that began in 1994.
His successor, Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel of Tapachula, 59, is secretary-general of the Latin American bishops’ council. He also has been chairman of the Mexican bishops’ commission for indigenous peoples and is a member of the Mexican bishops’ Commission for Peace and Reconciliation in Chiapas.
Bishop Arizmendi said in a mid-1998 interview that the only way to bring peace to Chiapas would be for the Mexican Government to assume responsibility for the needs of the people “and promote peace, development and justice”.
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