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MEXICO and SPAIN: Church and State

Mexico and Spain have drawn together politically, the Catholic Church being a second link.Hatred of the gachupín (Spaniard) has virtually disappeared in Mexico, which not only has established relations with the Vatican but sees in it a valuable ally in fighting the wave of crime which has made life in Mexico City a nightmare. The armored car of Cardinal Archbishop Norberto Rivera was stolen and discovered badly damaged.

Spain is naturally happy that Mexico remembers that it was New Spain. Following a visit by Socialist leader Felipe González, who gave a thoughtful television interview, Queen Sofia flew in from New York and was given a royal welcome by President Zedillo. For the first time, a dinner was given for a Queen in the presidential residence to celebrate her birthday. She was her useful graceful self, carrying out her ceremonial duties with the same dignity as her husband King Juan Carlos. President Zedillo and the Queen drove through the streets of Mexico City to warm public applause and then off to Tlaxcala, viewed with some historical simplification as the place where Catholicism was introduced into Mexico. The press stressed that she returned to Spain on a commercial flight. She had come to Mexico just to celebrate her birthday.

Meanwhile, politicians from around the world gathered in Rome for a celebration at which the Pope declared Saint Thomas More, whose portrait decorated Saint Peter´s Square, the patron saint of politicians. (God help them and us). It was an apt choice since More, a friend of Erasmus, as speaker of the House of Commons in 1523, helped to establish the parliamentary privilege of free speech. His execution in 1535 by Henry VIII following his refusal to approve his divorce of Catherine of Aragon and his proclaiming himself the Church of England, was a horrible example of the abuse of power.

Naturally the Spaniards were pleased with their new patron saint, but the Socialists especially so, since the Pope stressed the need for social justice, which must prevail over economic and political power. Of course it is easy for the Pope to talk; implementing social justice is more difficult. There is no record of what the politicians were really thinking. I will see if I can get the Pope to come to our conference on globalization.

Ronald Hilton - 11/05/00