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Religion in Mexico



Raúl Escalante Díaz Ceballos, the son of a Mexican diplomat, is a much appreciated WAISer. Both he and his wife are Stanford MBAs. He made a reference to his becoming a Catholic, which aroused my curiosity. He explains: " My father is a strict agnostic who was raised by Stalinist parents (that is no exaggeration). My mother was raised in a very devout family and attended the School of the Sacred Heart in Mexico City. By the time they married, my mother had rebelled against her strict upbringing. However, I was baptized and had my first communion when I was around nine years old, although we never attended mass regularly. Ironically, the only period of my life when I did go to church often was in Norway, while my father had responsibility for taking care of my brother and me, during a long visit by my mother to Mexico.

Until I started attending University, I referred to myself as a Catholic like most people I knew who were my age. During my first semester a teacher asked us to really question if we were Catholic; whether we shared the belief in the One Holy Roman Catholic Church, the role of the Pope, Saints, etc. From then on, I decided that although I did believe in God, I was certainly not a Catholic. I also began to think a lot about what my beliefs really were.

A girlfriend from school (who is now my wife) invited me to attend Mass with her at a parish of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit and later a concert by a Christian rock singer (Martin Valverde), who had converted to Catholicism from an Evangelical church (he is Costa Rican). The youth group she was active in had a way of working that was very attractive to me, and I eventually joined. Emphasis is on living a personal relationship with Jesus and true to Christian values. We organized retreats for other youths (mostly among people who were relatively well-to-do). Since then, my wife and I have attended weekly prayer meetings with short interludes (our two years at Stanford have been the longest break).

My personal beliefs still clash with the way the Catholic faith is interpreted by many: I believe spirituality is more important than religiosity; I have strong reservations about the role of missionaries; I have very a hard time with many of the Pope's opinions, etc. but have decided to return to the fold since I do share most beliefs. Most importantly, I am convinced that mine is not the only path to salvation (and I'm also sure that if humans have souls, so do other animals).

A few months ago our prayer group contacted a theologian who very graciously hosts us at her house one night every two weeks for very interesting talks on various subjects. A couple of weeks ago she prepared a Seder dinner for us, talked us through all the rituals and provided background reading for us. The prayer at the end of the dinner is one of the most beautiful I've heard".

My comment: What does Raúl think about clerical celibacy and the scandals which have rocked the Church in the US? Has there been anything similar in Mexico? As for animals having souls, I am sorry to report the death of Teodoro, the beloved dog of Jaqui White, a pillar of WAIS. This reminds me of the story of a man who went to a priest and asked him to pray for the soul of his dog. The priest said "But dogs don't have souls!" The bereaved owner said "I'm a Catholic, but I went to the Evangelical minister, who said he would pray for my dog's soul, and I was going to give him a big donation". The priest quickly answered "I didn't know your dog was a Catholic".

Ronald Hilton - 4/3/02


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