Reporting from Mexico City -- Decrying the violence that Mexicans are enduring, the Vatican has suggested excommunication as a possible punishment for drug traffickers whose war with the government has led to the deaths of thousands of people in the last year.
But the Roman Catholic Church's severest form of rebuke would probably have little effect on traffickers and killers who lack a religious conscience, the Vatican's No. 2 official, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, acknowledged.
Speaking to Latin American journalists at the Vatican before traveling to Mexico on Monday, Bertone said it was a "duty" to fight drug gangs because their actions represent "the most hypocritical and terrible way of murdering the dignity and personality of today's youth."
"Certainly, excommunication is a very harsh deterrent that the church has used to deal with the most serious crimes in its history, from the very first centuries," Bertone said when asked if the censure would be appropriate. Excommunication bars a Catholic from receiving sacraments and participating in public worship."
But I should observe that excommunication is a punishment that touches only those who have some form of ecclesiastical conscience, an ecclesiastical education," he added.
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