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‘The Bishop of the Poor’ Dies in Oaxaca

The bishop emeritus of the diocese of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca, Arturo Lona Reyes, known as “The bishop of the poor” for his help to the unprotected, died this Saturday at the age of 94 due to complications associated with COVID-19.

“We officially announce the death of Father Bishop, Arturo Lona Reyes, known as the Bishop of the Poor. He has returned to the house of the heavenly father, under the intercession of Mary Our Mother,” wrote the priest Joaquín Galván, in charge of Priestly Health of the diocese of Tehuantepec to report the death.

Precisely his attachment to social causes originated by social inequality, his solidarity with indigenous communities, as well as his work to defend the rights of indigenous communities, in a state that occupies the first rates of poverty and marginalization in Mexico, earned him the nickname.

The death of Lona Reyes was felt by the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

“He was very sorry for the death of Bishop Arturo Lona for his exemplary work in favor of the poorest,” López Obrador said on social networks.

He recalled that the bishop visited him at the National Palace of Mexico City, on February 26, 2019 and that day, the president published a photograph of his meeting with Lona Reyes.

“Today I had a conversation with an authentic Christian, the Catholic bishop of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Arturo Lona,” the president wrote on that occasion.

Due to complications in the spine, Lona Reyes was admitted on October 10 at the Medica Azul Hospital in Lagunas, Oaxaca, where she tested positive for the coronavirus, a situation that began to aggravate her health condition, she also suffered from diabetes, which in set caused his death.


The religious took the habits in 1952 and the bishopric in 1972 in the Cathedral of Tehuantepec to exercise a decisive devotion in favor of those most in need.

Thanks to his impulse and help to those in need, he managed to create two organic coffee production cooperatives and one more for sesame, whose exports are destined for Europe and whose profits are distributed among the original producers of the area that the bishop made partners.

In education, his legacy remains for the benefit of Zapotec youth through 15 Marist high schools and an indigenous university that already has six generations of graduates.

But in addition to her social help, Lona Reyes faced the chiefdoms of the region as in the jungle of the Chimalapas, where she condemned illegal and immoderate logging and took time to support the resistance of indigenous peoples against the mining industry. and wind power in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region.

During the contingency that caused the 8.2 magnitude earthquake, on September 7, 2017, considered the strongest in the last 100 years, the bishop’s participation was an incentive for the victims, who according to state authorities were more than 60,000

“A canvas for Lona” Bishop Lona Reyes was heard saying when he asked the benefactors to send canvases to Juchitán de Zaragoza, so that the victims would be protected from the intense rains that followed the earthquake.

Arturo Lona Reyes was declared bishop emeritus of Tehuantepec for 20 years and this November 1, he would turn 95 years old. In the coming days, Masses will be celebrated in the dioceses of Oaxaca in his memory.