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MEXICO: The Catholic Church and PAN



With its wealth of Spanish colonial towna, the Bajio, where the cristeros were persecuted, is the region where the most traditional form of Catholicism can be found. A major attraction is the Cerro de Los Angeles, The Mount of the Angels, with an impressive basilica on its summit. The home state of Vicente Fox, Guanajuato, recently became notorious because of its Church-inspired ban on abortion.

The adjoining state, northwest of Guanajuato, is Aguascalientes ("Hot waters"). Its capital is a charming, clean town with a bathhouse at the springs that suddenly became notorious. At its entrance is a sign saying that dogs, ambulant salesmen and a number of other people are banned. The Catholic Church opposes homosexuality, so the words "and homosexuals" were added. In view of the fact that bathhouses are notorious meeting places for homosexuals, it would seem quite reasonable. Indeed, it may well be that this was the case at Aguascalientes.

Anticlericals seized on the issue. They issued a statement saying that there were 1,000 homosexuals in Aguascalientes, and that 80% of them were professional people, the implication being that the homosexuals were among the best people in town. Others lumped "Dogs ...and homosexuals" together, implying that Catholics regard homosexuals as animals.

All this put Catholic Fox on the spot, since PAN faced a split, and he did not wish to alienate either side. The puzzle about his ancestry remained. His mother was Spanish, his father of Irish origin. Very few Irish migrate directly to Mexico, but some went to Catholic Spain; then they or their descendents emigrated to Spanish America. This was true of Ambrosio and Bernardo O'Higgins; the first, born in Ireland and educated in Spain, became Viceroy of Peru, the second, his son, the liberator of Chile. Ambrosio was supposed to enter the Church, and apparently went to South America to escape from it. During the US war with Mexico, some Irish American Catholics went to fight on the Mexican side and stayed on there. Presumably a biography of Fox will answer this puzzle.

Ronald Hilton - 8/26/00


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