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MEXICO: Anticlericalism.

The sight of Vicente Fox receiving the sacrament from a priest roused the dogs of anti-clericalism. Taking mass goes much further than having cordial official relations between the Vatican and the State. A poll asked Mexicans "Should the relations between the Church and State [i.e. the constitution] be changed?". A large majority said no. In other words, continue with the present ambiguous situation in which the restrictions on the Church are not enforced.

Today was by coincidence the birthday of President Benito Juárez (1806-1872). As Minister of Justice he abolished the privileges of the Catholic Church and became the symbol of anticlericalism. Despite the protests of the Pope and other leaders, he executed Emperor Maximilian, who was allied with the Church. This won for him a reputation of utter ruthlessness. Normally, his birthday has been celebrated with a major ceremony before his monument in Mexico City.

This year the ceremony was held in the presidential palace, and President Zedillo gave a cautious speech. He then proceeded to leave the hall, but was interrupted by Héctor Sánchez Juárez, a descendent of Juárez, who upbraided him and Fox in a rather incoherent way for abandoning the ideas of Benito Juárez. Zedillo avoided a confrontation by walking out of the hall.

The issue of history textbooks will not be so easy to evade. I would be grateful for any reports on the development of this issue. It would be related to the question of private, i.e. church school education. The battle of the books.

Ronald Hilton - 7/19/00