ance reinforces the Vatican delegate's position. The state's choice also opens it up to the problem of dealing with a group unrepresentative of the episcopate's actual interests. 112
The state's misunderstanding of the Church's decentralized structure has generated new tensions. Its alliance with the Vatican delegate, in some cases against local bishops, such as Samuel Ruiz, has opened up the government to deserved criticism, encouraging a backlash among the hierarchy. Many members of the hierarchy also are concerned about what they believe to be the delegate's excessive influence and the CEM's weakness vis-à-vis the Vatican's representative.
Problems generated by the structural relationships between the Vatican and the diocese are repeated between the diocese and the parish. The bishops' strength, their almost complete autonomy from any national and international institutional authority, explains their tendency to be authoritarian. Even bishops with a strong commitment to social change and increased laity and priest participation in the decision-making process can themselves become authoritarian in the defense of their prerogatives. 113
The centralization of authority, even when it occurs at various structural levels, promotes communication problems; Mexican priests identify it as the primary administrative source of problems in their parishes. Nevertheless, progressive bishops do not have a monopoly on effective communication or even on the goodwill of their priests. As is true within most large organizations, the individual executive's skill is crucial in determining administrative effectiveness. Various bishops have demonstrated a capacity for tolerance and effective communication amid ideological differences with some of their priests.
Mexico's Catholic Church cannot be understood, either in terms of its leadership or its rank-and-file clergy, without examining it at the local level. The image it conveys as a national, unified institution is misleading. The Church is a complex organization of local and regional voices most concerned about the issues and personalities in their dioceses, not in the episcopate or the Vatican.