Church-State Interlocks Informal Relations
No single interest group in Mexico can claim to have had a historical importance exceeding that of the Catholic Church in both the 19th and 20th centuries. Yet despite its significance, including the Church's influence on the Mexican populace, linkages between clergy and politicians and the Church and the state have been weak, informal, and founded on mutual ignorance.
Politicians and clergy alike are quick to identify and criticize their own ignorance. Most prominent leaders within each camp suggest that their lack of substantive knowledge about the other and the institutions they represent extends back to their respective childhoods, to the familial milieu in which each was raised. As one bishop suggested: "The explanation for the public officials' lack of knowledge about the Church can be explained by the fact that those interested in public careers at a very young age gradually move away from their contact with and knowledge of the Church. The higher up people go within the government, the more they fear that they will be seen in some way as connected to the Church." 1 Politicians themselves believe that they are more ignorant of Church affairs than are clergy of their activities. As one former government official explained, politicians typically are not exposed to consistent Catholic values in their homes. 2 These deficiencies in religious preparation may well lead to serious policy consequences. One intellectual with strong ties to both political and religious institutions described such results:
I have been asked constantly for advice in the last few months by my preparatory school companions in the Chamber of Deputies, both from the PRI and the PRD. They are anticipating a debate in the near future on the issue of formal relations between the Vatican See and the State. I would describe their knowledge of church history and background with the state as abysmally ignorant. 3
Church officials are no less critical of their own peers. They believe they, too, lack a cultural preparation about politicians and political life. Similar to Alvarez, they are convinced it leads to misinformation and misunderstandings about secular