and political position in the constitution and in the minds of ordinary Mexicans.
But if the president and his advisers believed they could co-opt the Church into
their new political alliance, they were mistaken. The Church, like all well-
established institutions, has its own agenda and responsibilities, formed within Mexico's historical and cultural context. If the clergy has learned anything in the
liberal 20th century, it is that it must remain independent of the state, it must not
ally with any political faction, and it must support the majority of the population. Mexico's bishops will continue to pursue their civic obligations, while maintaining
a fine balance between responsible exercise of political rights and partisan, political favoritism.
147 It will be an increasingly difficult tightrope for the Church to
tread, as Mexico encounters numerous obstacles on the path to political development.
Daniel H. Levine, Religion and Politics in Latin America: The Catholic Church in
Venezuela and Colombia ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), 13.
Daniel H. Levine, Religion and Politics in Latin America, 26.
Conferencia del Episcopado Mexicano, Compromiso cristiano ante las opciones sociales y la política ( Mexico City: Edición Senal, 1973), 23.
Adolfo Suárez Rivera, "Instrucción pastoral sobre la dimensión política de la fe,"
Monterrey Archdiocese, Monterrey, Nuevo León, March, 1987, 6.
A typical example can be found in
Pablo González Casanova, Democracy in Mexico
( New York: Oxford University Press, 1965), 40.
For example, the Mexican episcopate also stated in 1973 that both bishops and priests
have the responsibility to defend liberty and rights and denounce their abuse whenever they
are present. Conferencia de Episcopado Mexicano, Compromiso cristiano ante las opciones
sociales y la política, 24-26. This pastoral letter also refers to the earlier episcopal statement on "Development and Integration of the Country," which criticized internal colonialism and unequal development, statements that would have brought it into direct confrontation with political elites had it been publicized. The traditional point of view was expressed
by Luis Reynoso Cervantes, later bishop of Cuernavaca, who stated unequivocally that
politics is excluded from the Church's responsibilities. Sociedad Teológica Mexicana, La
evangelización en México, sexta semana de estudios teológicos ( Mexico City: Ediciones
Paulinas, 1975), 209.
Soledad Loaeza, "La Iglesia católica mexicana y el reformismo autoritario," Foro
Internacional 25, no. 2 ( October-December 1984): 147.
Dennis Goulet, "The Mexican Church: Into the Public Arena," America 160, no. 13
( April 8, 1989): 320, quoting Jirolamo Prigione. Prigione further stated that "[t]he Church
does not take political positions. It only defends principles, orients moral sentiments; but it
does not take sides in favor or against anyone. It never says: this is the truth [in political
matters]." Unomásuno, August 7, 1982, 18.
Soledad Loaeza, "La iglesia y la democracia en México," Revista Mexicana de Sociología 47, no. 1 ( January-March 1985): 166.
Personal interview with César Pérez, Mexican Methodist Church, Mexico City, July
Enrique Luengo, "Los párrocos: una visión," Ibero-American University, un-