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Bishop told to stop ordaining Indians

The Vatican has ordered a bishop to suspend the ordination of Indian deacons, a measure begun by his predecessor to create an "Indian church" in southern Mexico.

"Continuing to ordain permanent deacons, with so many already in the diocese, would be equivalent to continue sustaining an ecclesiastical model alien to the tradition and the life of the church," said the letter to Bishop Felipe Arizmendi.

It ordered Bishop Arizmendi to halt such ordinations for at least five years while the situation of the deacons is studied.

A copy of the letter, dated 1 February, was given to The Associated Press by sources with church contacts. The diocese's vicar-general, Gustavo Andrade Hernandez, confirmed that it was genuine.

The letter again indicated the Vatican's discomfort with the work of Bishop Arizmendi's predecessor, Bishop Samuel Ruiz, who is widely revered in the region's Maya Indian communities, where he preached an Indian-oriented version of "liberation theology" during his 40 years as bishop.

Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas (CCINA statistics)