Two Decades in Brief Repose
In contrast to the lack of literature analyzing religion, religious institutions, and the Church's political role in recent decades, historians have provided a far more complete picture of the institution during various periods prior to the 1970s. It is not the purpose of this work to go over ground well cultivated by others, or to provide a historical narrative, readily available and detailed in other works. Although references to specific historical circumstances, national and international, occur throughout the remaining chapters, it is useful to summarize briefly some important internal conditions that have a specific relevance to religion and politics, and more narrowly, church and state, at the end of the 20th century.
One of the most important themes underlying the historical roots of church-state or religion-politics tensions in Mexico is the symbiotic relationship between civil and religious authorities, or the lack of separation between church and state in the colonial period. Throughout the Spanish colonization, the Church was an active but sometimes recalcitrant ally of secular institutions. This alliance, whatever its fundamental characteristics, brought the Church and Catholicism squarely into secular and political affairs. It was never the case, however, that the Spanish crown could count on the Church to pursue its goals rather than the Church's, potentially undercutting royal interests. 1 It is equally important to stress that the two institutions never behaved as equals in the relationship since the Church operated as the subordinate partner. According to Ivan Vallier, their subservient role actually contributed to the Church involving itself more deeply in politics, while at the same time reducing its ability to influence extrapolitical values. 2 Nevertheless, despite decades of anticlericalism characterizing Mexico in both the 19th and 20th centuries, the Mexican state demonstrated a willingness, even before the