Other Discussions on Mexico

Liberation Theology, the Jesuits

I have written about the tendency, especially in Spain, to blame that most Spanish of orders, the Jesuits, for the country's woes. When I lived in Spain, the poor Madrid streetcar service was blamed on the owners, the Jesuits. Some of the criticism was justified, much unfounded. Some was due to intra-Catholic rivalries. This by way of introduction to two reports put out by the Latin American News Syndicate (LANS) on "The Truth About Chiapas." LANS is extremely well-informed, but it is ill-disposed toward liberation theology and to the role of the Jesuits in it. The articles were written by a Catholic, Mary Ball Martinez, who has written for the National Review and for the American Spectator, neither of which can be described as leftist. Jesuit involvement in "Marxist-Leninist terrorism" was denounced by Malachi Martin in The Jesuits: The Society of Jesus and the Betrayal of the Roman Catholic Church (Simon & Schuster, 1987). Even more pointed is the book by French Law Professor Michel Alegrin, La subversation humanitaire (Paris: Picollec, 1988).

Armed with Vatican credentials, Mary Martinez went to San Cristobal, Mexico and spoke with Bishop Samuel Ruiz, chairman of the reconciliation committee in Chiapas. She blamed leftist guerrillas for the 1968 shootout in Mexico City's Tlatelolco, for which the Army is commonly held responsible. She found Bishop Ruiz evasive, and described a guerrilla network associated with the Revolutionary Democratic Party of Cuautemos Cardenas, now governor of Mexico City. Bishop Ruiz resigned from the Reconciliation Committee, charging that the Mexican government was treating the Indians unfairly. I asked Church officials to answer the charges made by LANS and Mary Martinez. They found excuses not to respond. My invitation remains open. Whatever the facts, the charges against the Jesuits cannot be used as a coverup for the barbarous behavior of some Latin American military. At this moment, General Videla of Argentina has been put on trial again, while Argentine clerics denounce the misery of the underprivileged in prosperous Argentina. In general, the Latin American poor view the Catholic Church as their protectors. The number of the clergy who promote violence is small, and they are probably using the Church as a cover.

Ronald Hilton, 06/11/98