The Catholic Church performed a country-wide exorcism on Mexico

Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the VaticanWikimediaPapal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican

The Catholic Church performed a nation-wide exorcism of Mexico to help the country get rid of its demons, the Catholic News Agency reported.

The extreme violence, high number of abortions, and criminality associated with drug cartels prompted the church to carry out this unique kind of exorcism.

The special ritual took place last month in the cathedral of San Luis Potosí and Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, the archbishop emeritus of Guadalajara presided over the ceremony, called “Exorcismo Magno.”

The event, a first in the history of Mexico, where 82% of the population is Catholic, was only announced by the church after it took place as officials feared people might misinterpret the ritual.

“This rite of exorcism, beautiful and liturgical, had never before taken place in any part of the world. Although it had taken place in a private manner as when Saint Francis exorcised the Italian city of Arezzo,” Father José Antonio Fortea, who also participated in the ceremony, said.

The drug war raging in the country since 2006 is thought to have killed at least 60,000 between 2006 as cartels, vigilante groups, and the Mexican army and police have tried to take control. And the violence associated with it shows little signs of slowing down.

This isn’t the first time the Catholic Church has tried to mitigate violence in Central America. In 2013, the church mediated a cease-fire agreement between the two most powerful gangs in Honduras.

Drug cartel jalisco new mexicoScreen grabMembers of the Jalisco New Generation Drug Cartel

The church, however, knew the ritual wouldn’t change the country in a single day.

“It would be a big mistake to think that by performing a full scale exorcism of the country everything would automatically change right away,” Father Fortea said.

But officials hoped it would help the country move in the right direction.

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