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MEXICO: Anticlericalism. Correction

Religion is a major problem in Mexican politics. As for anti-clericalism, in reply to my statement that "Juárez owed his education to a kindly priest, so it is curious that he became so anticlerical",  Juan Pablo Senosiain says: "The main cause of anticlericalism is the Church, thus it's perfectly logical that its main opponents come from a religious background." It is true that many anti-clericals had a Catholic education (the Jesuits taught both Voltaire and Castro). but the kindly priest who helped young Juárez deserved affection.

Jorge Loyo-Rosales says : "The main reason why Juárez executed Maximilian had more to do with discouraging more foreign interventions in Mexico rather than punishing the Church. Very few people (i.e. imperialists) were punished after Maximilian, Mejia and Miramon were executed in Queretaro."

Intervention: The enemies of Juárez says he sold out to the yanquis and was prepared to give them rights across the Isthmus of Tehuántepec. In the National Palace, next door to Mexico City Cathedral, there is a virtual shrine to Juárez with an inscription which in essence denies this.

Religion? Juárez was a prominent Mason. For the latest issue of Heredom WAISer Paul Rich, a 32nd degree Mason, has written a long article "The Rite That Wasn´t: the Cardeninsta Masons of Mexico." It stresses the importance of Masonry for Juárez and of him for Masonry. A photograph of his funeral show the Masonic symbols. Since his time Mexican Presidents have been Masons. Presumably Fox is not, while Cuautémoc Cárdenas is, like his grandfather Lázaro Cárdenas, who is venerated by Masons.

Not only are the Masons secretive. The Catholic Church is. As long as the PRI was in power, the Church was careful to say that the assassination of the Archbishop of Guadalajara, Jesús Posada Ocampo, was an unsolved mystery. As soon as Fox won, a Guadalajara committee of which his successor  Juan Sandoval is a prominent member, issued a statement saying that he was killed because government officials knew he had documents incriminating them. Concerned by this Pandora´s box, the national episcopal council issued a disclaimer.

Vicente Fox is a forceful orator, which may or not be a good thing. The Spanish language is so sonorous and beautiful that politicians say things which sound great but mean nothing. This is really what Cantinflas was satirizing. Mario Augusto Gutiérrez of Colombia has calld our attention to a funny article in El Espectador of Bogotá on this subject. It was priests trained in eloquence who spread Spanish throughout Spanish America. Cantinflas carries on the tradition of the popular 18th century satire on priestly eloquence Fray Gerundio de Campazas, by Padre  Francisco José de Isla, himself a Jesuit.

One final note on religion in Mexico. We hear little about the Jews in Mexico, but they have their district in Mexico which was mentioned in connection with a crime recently. Little is said about their politics, but it would be reasonable to assume that they are largely Masons and not partisans of Fox. The same may be true of the more prominent Sirio-Lebanese colony. Perhaps Paul Rich can tell us.

Ronald Hilton - 7/20/00