Mexican bishops have also passed through two other significant educational experiences: Rome and New Mexico. Similar to their secular, political counterparts, future bishops have traveled abroad for advanced religious and philosophical education. But unlike Mexican politicians, bishops have obtained this education at primarily two institutions, institutions the Church controls. On the other hand, a Roman education at the Gregorian University serves to bring priests together with their most prominent counterparts from the outside Catholic world. The establishment of the Colegio México has reduced considerably these personal and intellectual contacts and is likely to have important future consequences on Mexican Catholic ideology.
Many Mexican clergy also have shared a unique educational experience, a product of historical circumstances, in attending the Montezuma seminary in the United States, the only interdiocesan seminary, in effect a national Mexican seminary, to have existed. Early generations of graduates formed in this foreign environment produced a significant number of bishops, many of whom played critical roles in the ideological currents of the 1960s.
Clerical educational patterns in Mexico have remained quite constant in the latter half of this century. But as the backgrounds of younger bishops illustrate, several significant changes are apparent, changes having consequences for episcopate leadership and attitudes. Among the most important of these patterns is a recent decline in teaching careers in favor of a heavier emphasis on pastoral experiences. These experiences are critical in drawing priests closer to their parishioners and in making future Church leaders more aware of laypersons' problems.
A second recent development among bishops' educational trends is that larger numbers are remaining in Mexico to complete their seminary education. This has important consequences for the Mexican episcopate's receptivity to currents of thought circulating in Rome and in emphasizing the organic priest as the major source of Church leadership. It is also likely to contribute to a more nationally oriented, rather than internationally predisposed, bishop.
Accompanying this last trend is the reversal of a long-standing and increasing trend of obtaining higher education at the doctoral level. Mexican bishops, in their selection of future peers, are not stressing this previous pattern. Instead, priests are completing basic theological education and activating their careers more quickly than in the past. This may be due to the general pressures created by an aging clergy. It is bound to have some effect on episcopal receptivity to intellectual issues. In the future, the intellectual diversity that the Catholic hierarchy provides its priests will be more dependent on diocesan differences than on national and international experiences.