Crossing Swords: Politics and Religion in Mexico

By Roderic Ai Camp | Go to book overview

12
The Church Viewed through Political and Clerical Lenses

Mexico passed through one of the most economically and politically dynamic stages of its development in the 1980s and 1990s. The Catholic Church and Catholicism were witnesses to, and active ingredients in, ongoing alterations in Mexican society. It is fortuitous that field research for this project began at this juncture, especially since no one would have predicted a newly formalized relationship between church and state in the mid-1980s.

The literature on church-state relations and on the Catholic Church's potential political or social role in the region ignores the combined views of actual actors in the relationship--politicians and clergy--a serious methodological flaw. It is also important to integrate rank-and-file clergy's interpretations with those of the episcopate, not only to understand frontline troops' attitudes on implementing Catholic doctrine but also to comprehend the future direction of Church leadership drawn from this community of priests. Furthermore, an occasional interpretation of prominent intellectuals is included since much of what the Church does or can bestow on society is cultural in scope, and intellectuals have contributed heavily to the secular environment governing Mexican church-state relations.

The views of the Catholic episcopate and rank-and-file clergy are particularly important because, as Daniel Levine argues, their perceptions and self-images of the institutional Church and its religious doctrine "determine the direction, intensity, and style of action that members undertake. It is the stuff of which commitments and martyrs are made." 1 It is also the case, as Levine suggests, that religion generally shapes behavior in the daily life of the community. Implicit political messages, associated with religious traditions, may also be transmitted through the latent political culture, including attitudes toward authority. 2 Although, as we have seen, many politicians reject strong Catholic influences in their upbringing in the strict spiritual sense, they are affected indirectly by Catholic and secular cultural influences.

Throughout this work, the focus implicitly and explicitly is on the relationship between religion and politics, or the broader pastoral role the Church might play,

-283-

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Crossing Swords: Politics and Religion in Mexico
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • 1 - Church and State Foundations of Analysis 3
  • Notes 19
  • 2 - Historical Underpinnings and Reform Two Decades in Brief Repose 24
  • Notes 41
  • Issues Facing the Church Politics, Partisanship, and Development 50
  • Notes 70
  • 4 - Issues Facing the Church Moral and Spiritual Challenges 79
  • Notes 99
  • 5 - Religion, Politics, and the Laity 109
  • Notes 126
  • 6 - Becoming a Priest Why Mexicans Enter the Clergy 135
  • Notes 150
  • Educating the Clergy from Priest to Bishop 154
  • Notes 174
  • 8 - Who Are the Bishops? Consequences of Family and Place 180
  • Notes 199
  • 9 - Church-State Interlocks Informal Relations 202
  • Notes 222
  • 10 - Structure and Decision Making 228
  • Notes 251
  • 11 - Structure and Decision Making the Bishop in His Diocese 259
  • Notes 276
  • 12 - The Church Viewed through Political and Clerical Lenses 283
  • Notes 302
  • Appendix - Mexican Bishops 309
  • Bibliographic Essay 319
  • Index 327
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