Mexico, as we have seen, also has produced a more autonomous Church without direct financial links to the government. Although it often seeks and receives
funding from abroad, these funds appear to be given without any strings. The
ability of the Church to operate independently of the state, especially in financial
terms, strengthens its ability as an institution to serve its constituency's interests,
especially if it confronts the state's position.
The Church further strengthened its position through personal and institutional
linkages with the U.S. Catholic hierarchy, notably along the border, but elsewhere, including the South, as well. The Church is willing to use its ties to the United States to express a position independent of the Mexican government, or it
may also help the government improve its international position vis-à-vis the United States on important domestic, economic issues. Regardless of how the
Church is involved, its actions demonstrate that it is a significant, complex actor
in Mexican affairs, and that if the situation demands that it perform secular assignments in the interest of the laity, especially the poor, Church leadership is willing
to accept such a task.
John L. McKenzie, The Roman Catholic Church ( New York: Holt, Rinehart, 1969), 32-33.
Brian Smith, "Religion and Social Change: Classical Theories and New Formulations
in the Content of Recent Developments in Latin America," Latin American Research Review 10 ( 1975): 22.
Edward L. Cleary, Crisis and Change: The Church in Latin America Today (Mary-
knoll: Orbis Books, 1985), 13.
Prigione was given the title Vatican delegate for most of his tenure because Mexico
did not have formal relations with the Vatican. This term is used interchangeable with
papal nuncio, the official diplomatic tide given to a Vatican ambassador.
Mori de México, "Encuesta Semanal," November 27, 1992.
George Grayson, The Church in Contemporary Mexico ( Washington: CSIS, 1992), 35.
Personal interview with Archbishop Manuel Pérez Gil, Tlanepantla Diocese, Tlanep
antla, México, February 18, 1991.
Grupo Consultor Interdisciplinario, "Carta de política mexicana, las relaciones
estado-iglesias," February 21, 1992, 9.
For example, see José Luis Gaona Vega's statement that Prigione has "a view of
the Church distinct from some northern bishops." La designación de Sandoval Iñiguez fue
hecha por 'manos extrañas a la región, Punto, March 21, 1988, 11.
Edward L. Cleary, Crisis and Change: The Church in Latin America Today, 15.
Latin American Institutional Development: The Changing Catholic Church,
, ed. ( Santa Monica, Calif.: Rand Corporation, 1969), 13.
Personal interview with Archbishop Rosendo Huesca, Puebla Archdiocese, Puebla, Puebla, July 16, 1993.