Bishop of the Diocese of Saltillo
Fray Jose Raul Vera Lopez, OP born in Acambaro, Guanajuato, Mexico on 21 June 1945. Graduated in Chemical Engineering at UNAM in 1968. He entered the Order of Preachers (Dominican Friars) to the Province of Mexico in November of that year . He studied Philosophy in Mexico and Theology in Bologna, Italy (1968-1976). He graduated with a degree in theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome in 1976. He was ordained a priest by Pope Paul VI on 29 June 1975. He served as chaplain to students at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (1976-1981 ; 1985-1987). He served as Master of Novices of the Province of Mexico of the Order of Preachers (1977-1985).
In 1987 John Paul II appointed him bishop of Ciudad Altamirano, Guerrero, Mexico. He was ordained bishop by John Paul II in Rome on January 6, 1988 and assumed his work in the Diocese on 21 January 1988. He founded the Social Center “Juan Navarro” to care for the poor of the Diocese with which he began his defense of Human Rights. In the Episcopal Conference he has served as a member of the Permanent Council in two periods, Chairman of the Commission for Consecrated Life, Member of the Commission for Social Pastoral and Episcopal Commission for Peace in Chiapas, from 10 January 1994, to support the peace process before the uprising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN).
The August 14, 1995 he was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, to work with Don Samuel Ruiz, Bishop Diocesan. He came to the Diocese on October 4 of that year. He worked in the III Diocesan Synod and the formation of permanent deacons; He collaborated in drawing up the Directory for the Indigenous Permanent Diaconate. He supported the peace process and reconciliation between the indigenous peoples of Chiapas and the Federal Government, together with Bishop Samuel Ruiz, the Diocese of San Cristobal and the bishops of the Bishops’ Commission for Peace in Chiapas. He convoked dialogue between the EZLN and the Mexican government, promting fair living conditions for the indigenous Maya peoples of the region. He is a member of the Board of Human Rights Center Fray Bartolome de Las Casas, Chiapas from 1995- today).
He was appointed Bishop of Saltillo, Coahuila by Pope John Paul II, 30 December 1999. He began his pastoral work in the Diocese on March 20, 2000. He has worked for the implementation of an Organic Pastoral Plan, which promotes integral evangelization of men and women of the Diocese; encourages the clergy and the people to join a church process that affects achieve a profound change in social reality toward justice and peace.
He founded the Diocesan Center for Human Rights “Fray Juan de Larios”, in Saltillo. He has accompanied the coal miners in defense of labor rights, especially safety conditions for their work. He exposed accidents before and after the incident of February 19, 2006 in which 65 miners died in the Pasta de Conchos mine. He has fought for rescue efforts, and justice to widows, orphans and families. Sadly, the 65 miners remain disappeared today.
BishopRaul Vera has fought for the plight of immigrants. He has promoted the establishment of two houses of Migrante in Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila, “Casa Emmaus” and in Saltillo, Coahuila, “Belén Migrant”. With the team of the House “Bethlehem Casa del Migrante” and Center “Fray Juan de Larios”, he makes a defense of human rights of migrants, with advocacy at national and international level. In March 2010, he attended the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, along with other advocates to denounce the “humanitarian tragedy” of the kidnapping of migrants in Mexico.
He has fought for dignity of gays, lesbians and prostitutes. The “St. Aelred” community was created in the Diocese of Saltillo in 2002 to pastorally accompany young members of the community of sexual diversity seeking promotion of the dignity and protection of human rights of this community, seeking their full integration into society and the Church. Bishop Vera since 2005 facilitates the development of a project promoting dignity of children and adolescents from poor neighborhoods in Saltillo, called “graffiti”. He took the complaint and supporting prostitutes raped by members of the Mexican Army Military July 11, 2006 in Castaños, Coahuila in their lawsuit against the Army and the State.
In his defense of Human Rights has participated as a speaker or panelist speaker at various Universities and Institutions of Higher Education, as the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Autonomous University of Coahuila, Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Monterrey Campus, Autonomous University of Sinaloa, University of Oregon, University of Chicago, University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, University of Costa Rica, Javeriana University Bogota, University of Vienna and others.
He was invited by the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Ministries Lesbian and Gay United States (NACDLGM), in XV National Conference in Long Beach in 2008, in which he spoke of the pastoral work with the Gay and Lesbian Community. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has invited him to participate in his Mission Congress this year 2010 to be a panelist on the same subject.
He participated as a panelist at the 25th anniversary of the Rafto Foundation in Bergen, Norway in November 2011 with a lecture entitled “Challenges of the future of Human Rights”. He was invited to the event after being recognized by the Foundation in November 2010
He is president of the Diocesan Centre for Human Rights “Fray Juan de Larios” and is President of The National Center for Assistance to Indigenous Missions (CENAMI). He is Chairman of the Human Rights Center “Fray Bartolome de las Casas”.
Raul Vera has received the following awards for his work for Human Rights:
2000: National Human Rights Award “Don Sergio Mendez Arceo”
2000: Roque Dalton Medal, awarded by the Council for Cooperation with the Culture and Science in El Salvador, AC
2007: Medal of Merit in Mexico City for his work in defense of human rights, granted by the Ecclesial Observatory and the National Human Rights Network.
2009: Recognition “Acambaro beloved Son” by the City of Acambaro, Guanajuato
2009: Recognition “Samuel Ruiz” in Coahuila, for the defense and promotion of Human Rights in Mexico
2010: Received the 2010 Rafto Prize for Rafto Foundation in Bergen, Norway at the national headquarters of the theater (den Nationale Scene) in Bergen, Norway.
2011: Recognition by the Centre for Human Rights of Women in Chihuahua, Mexico.
2011: Recognition entitled “Voice of Justice” for his courageous defense of migrants, issued by Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas.
2012: Recognition by the Jesuit University System (SUJ) on March 16 at the Auditorium San Ignacio de Loyola at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Torreon, Coahuila
He has also been a finalist for the Nobel Peace Prize on several occasions.