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MEXICO: The marriage of President Fox

Church and State are uncomfortable partners in Mexico. Fox is opposed by PRI politicians, but also by conservative Catholics who did not want him as the PAN candidate. Both groups seem to have been behind the charge that the judge who married Fox and Marta de Sahagún in the official presidential residence was not authorized to perform marriages. It involves a peculiarity of Mexican law that requires civil marriages to be performed by a family judge (juez familiar). The marriage took place in the federal district, whose attorney general's office said there was no impediment to the marriage and that if its legality us contested, there must be a trial before a family judge in which both sides must be represented. This would lead to a major political row.

Mexico City and Guadalajara are also uncomfortable partners. The Archbishop of Guadalajara has been involved in a running feud with the Mexican government. He claimed to have given Rome confidential evidence that the government of Jalisco was behind the assassination of his predecessor as Archbishop of Guadalajara. It was not a mistake by gangsters, who thought the car in which he was riding belonged to a rival gang, but a deliberate government plot. The government said the alleged evidence was simply material which the government itself has already made publicand did not prove his charge.

Now the Archbishop of Guadalajara declared that the Fox-Sahagún marriage was invalid and that they were living in sin. Only God knows his motives. Was it the attitude of conservative members of PAN, or simply another blow in his feud with the government? How would it affect the Catholic masses? Meanwhile Fox and his wife were touring the US, one stop being Milwaukee, where he addressed a national meeting of La Raza-- the Mexican Race (!!). He said they would visit the Vatican in the course of a world tour, and expressed the hope that the Pope would indeed visit Mexico after his tour of Canada next year.

If he does, he will run into another problem. The authorities at the Basilica of Guadalupe said it would be the occasion for him to proclaim the beatification of Juan Diego, who saw the Virgin. The Vatican has been dragging its feet on this, since the story is a fable. One nice, doddering prelate at the Basilica declared that the religious theme runs throughout Mexican history. A Mexican bill has a portrait of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. If you look carefully, you can see an image of the Virgin on her breast. The theme is even on the Mexican coat of arms; the eagle holding the serpent in its beak and claws represents the triumph of good over evil. [This is news to me. Can Mexican specialists please enlighten us?]. The prelate ended with a wisecrack about Jehovah´s Witnesses. Are they being dragged into these arguments?

Ronald Hilton - 7/18/01