The bishop of the Diocese of Orange faxed a letter of condolence to Guadalajara on Tuesday, saying he was sad and outraged at the killing of Roman Catholic Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo.
"The church generally, and the people of Guadalajara, especially, have sustained a heavy loss in the tragic killing of Cardinal Posadas Ocampo," Bishop Norman McFarland said in the letter. The slaying, he said, "not only saddens us for itself, but it gives rise to feelings of rage as it underlines the wanton violence that has penetrated our society on both sides of the border and threatens to destroy it utterly."
Posadas, who is the archbishop of Guadalajara, and six other people were killed Monday afternoon when they were caught in the middle of an apparent drug-related shootout in the parking lot of Guadalajara's international airport.
The diocese Tuesday sent letters to its 53 churches in Orange County, asking congregations to remember Posadas, the other victims and the people of Guadalajara in their prayers during Sunday Mass.
The 66-year-old cardinal was well-known to Orange County's estimated 480,000 Latino Catholics, who make up more than 60% of the diocese, said Msgr. Jaime Soto, vicar for the Latino community in the diocese. Many of the members came from the Mexican state of Jalisco, whose capital is Guadalajara. That city of 4 million is known as a center of conservative Catholicism and a headquarters for narcotics traffickers.
"I am just terribly saddened by the death of the archbishop and those who died with him," Soto said. "It's just another chilling reminder to us of how the violence of drugs and greed scourges communities on both sides of the border. . . . This has to be a time for special prayers, and a time to renew efforts to bring peace to our neighborhoods and our homes."
As thousands lined up outside the cathedral in Guadalajara on Tuesday to file past the body of the cardinal, Catholics in Orange County also mourned Posadas' death.
Soto, who celebrated a Tuesday morning Mass at the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Santa Ana, said some members were "furious. They were shocked. They were angry that a man of the people, a servant of the people, had been struck down that way."
The news hit especially hard at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Anaheim, where many members came from Jalisco.
"It's been a particularly big blow for our Hispanic community," said Father John Lenihan, the pastor at St. Boniface. "They are shocked. They are saddened. They are perplexed, especially because the details are still unclear yet."
"It just goes to show that there is no safe place in this world," said Bruce Larson, co-pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove. "Life is not fair when a cardinal on holy business gets shot. It's tragic . . . but Guadalajara is no different than L.A. or Orange County. We are all caught up in the senseless violence of our time, even a beloved cardinal."