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MEXICO: The Virgin of Guadalupe - two versions



Ed Jajko did not like my comment on the Virgin of Guadalupe: "A comment on a blatant inaccuracy in [it]. You say that since the story of the apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe to Juan Diego is -- in your opinion -- a legend, the Pope cannot canonize her, given that various saints have been removed from the canon of saints because their existence has been judged to be doubtful or fictional. But the Virgin of Guadalupe is not a run of the mill saint; she is, according to Roman Catholic belief, the Blessed Virgin Mary, i.e., Mary the Mother of Jesus, Mary the Mother of God, who has appeared to various people in several countries, e.g. Lourdes in France, Fatima in Portugal. Having been preserved from sin from the moment of conception, lived sinlessly, and, in the official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, assumed bodily into heaven, she is not subject to the laws of canonization. It is an absurdity to say that, for whatever reason, the Pope cannot canonize her [Did I say that?? If so, like Homer, I nodded]..

Perhaps you meant to say that the Vatican has yet to canonize Juan Diego. This came up earlier this year. I quote here from a message I sent you on 19 July, replying to your posting of 18 July: "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. Perhaps you meant to say "canonization of Juan Diego." He was declared blessed in April 1990, and the ceremony of beatification was performed in May 1990 by John Paul II when he visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Vatican may indeed be dragging its feet with regard to his canonization. This is not unprecedented; it took Rome 400 years to canonize Thomas More, and about the same number of years to canonize Martin de Porres, of Lima, Peru. But this is hardly because the Vatican shares your opinion that "the story is a fable." The apparitions and "story" of la Guadalupana are taken quite seriously. Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared Patroness of the Americas in 1946 by Pius XII and in 1999, her feast day, 12 December, was made a holy day for all of North America."

My response: When I am accused of doing something "blatant", my reaction is to look up the word. It was coined by Edmund Spencer, and comes from "to blate" (bellow). Well, I do not blate and I do not bellow. That would be unWAIS. As for footdragging, that is the charge the Mexicans make. Now, during the Guadalupe festival, they are hoping that the Pope will canonize Juan Diego next year. I admit that I carelessly used "beatify", but the Mexicans themselves make that confusion. The former rector of the Basilica of Guadalupe lost his job because he said the story is a fable, a belief secretly shared by other Mexican priests, and their doubts must have reached the Vatican. The position that these apparitions are not fables contrasts with the admission of liberal Jewish scholars that figures like Abraham and Moses may not have existed, and with Muslim admissions that the ascent of Mohammed to heaven was in a dream. Nevertheless, they say, this does not weaken their importance as symbols. That is my position with regard to Christianity.

A conflicting view of the Virgin of Guadalupe comes from Linda Nyquist, educated by nuns: "Your piece was beautiful in every way, but the sad thing is how really un-beautiful life is in most ways in present-day Mexico, largely owing to the contaminated environment, presence of disease and disease-causing vectors, and alarming crime, which is particularly true in Mexico City. It is truly a shame. One is very likely to get mugged at the Basilica itself. I often wonder how the faithful feel that the Virgin is protecting them, or anyone else for that matter. This isn't meant as a blasphemous query, but as a sincere observation."

My comment: Many people wonder this. When I first went to Mexico City, there as just the historic shrine. Then a large box-like church was built next to it. Now the Church is promoting a plan to build a shrine at Ecatepec, to the north, where allegedly Juan Diego lived. A large number of poor people met in a nearby factory to hear speeches promoting the construction of this shrine. Critics say the plan will simply extract more money from the poor, Others say it will bring a little hope and joy to their sorry lives. Take you choice.

Ronald Hilton - 12/14/01


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