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Pope John Paul II's Visit to Mexico

     WAIS Fellow Sam Huntington is generally viewed as the prophet of a clash between religions. Actually, this prophecy was made in the last century by men like Auguste Compte, who wanted Constantinople to be the city where East and West could make peace.
     However, there is another religious clash, that between Catholicism and paganism, and this week they are coming face to face in Latin America. The patron saint of Rio de Janeiro is St. Sebastian, a heroic martyr brutally killed for denouncing the cruelty of the Emperor Diocletian. His feast day, January 20, should be one of respecful and mournful remembrance. Rio did indeed celebrate the day in a big way, but TV reports never mentioned him. Instead it showed crowds appropriately unattired on the beaches and later yelling at a soccer match.
     In Mexico the scene was quite different as the capital prepared for the fourth visit of Pope John Paul in a feverish way. Plans for three ceremonies were extremely detailed, and crowds came from all over Mexico; there was even a web site with details. Clearly in Mexico Church and State are no longer divorced.
     Meanwhile in Rome the Pope prepared by placing himself under the prortection of the Virgin of Guadalupe and naming several Mexican bishops. Most important, he said that his visit would mark a new evangelization of the Americas, of which the Virgin of Guadalupe is protectress. He did not say if he would evangelize Bill Clinton when they meet in St. Louis, but Clinton goes to Protestant Churches conspicuously carrying a bible, so it would not be surprising if he took mass from the Pope. It would win him many Mexican-American votes.
     Mexico City versus Rio de Janeiro. Which will win? Probably a tie, as people render to God what is God's and to mammon what is mammon's. Each side will have its fans.

Ronald Hilton - 01/21/99

More on Pope John Paul II's Visit to Mexico

     From Mexico David Crow sends the disturbing report, which rectifies my message about God versus mammon. The latter is subverting the forces of the former:
     "More grist for the mill of those who lament the commercialization of religion. On the eve of Pope John Paul II's fourth visit to Mexico (January 22-26), the capital has been beseiged by advertising of the official "collaborators" (corporate sponsors) of the visit. Pepsi posters abound at bus stops, depicting the Pope and the Virgin of Guadalupe, with the the company logo featured prominently below the legend "Mexico Always Faithful". If one buys a bag of Sabritas brand potato chips, one receives a small trading card-type image of the Virgin, with the lucky ones getting the Pope himself.
     While street merchants have hawked their wares (baseball hats, t-shirts, etc.) during the previous visit, this time the commercialization enjoys the express approval of Archbishop Norberto Rivera of Mexico City. Reportedly, the archbishopric is charging reporters $300 dollars for the right to cover the Pope's public appearances.
     One headline yesterday read: "Pope Furious: Almost Cancels Visit". One is reminded of the Biblical passage where Jesus ousts the money-changers from the temple. Would that he did that now! " My comment: I gather that the Pope is furious at the commercialization of his visit. If so, he should excommunicate Archbishop Norberto Rivera.

Ronald Hilton - 01/21/99