.- Blessed Juan de Palafox of Puebla, Archbishop of Mexico and Viceroy of New Spain, is proof that it is possible “to be holy as a politician,” writes a Mexican columnist.
“He had a brilliant career ahead for himself when he discovered the fleeting nature of worldly goods and honors, and thus he chose ecclesiastic life. But that did not save him from continuing to participate in public office during his time,” Jose Castellanos noted in a June 29 article published by the Archdiocese of Mexico City’s news service.
Castellanos noted that power can corrupt and that “examples of arbitrariness, and even disgrace, abound in Mexico and throughout the world.”
However, Bishop Juan de Palafox, beatified on June 5 in Burgo de Osma, Spain, was a noteworthy exception.
“He was educated in Jesuit schools and went to the universities of Alcala and Salamanca, and his skills as a jurist in the government led to his occupying important public offices, such as attorney for the Council of War and for the Council of the State,” Castellanos said.
His work as Viceroy of New Spain included fending off an invasion from Portuguese forces, reining in the power of city mayors and clarifying the rights of Indians.
“In summary, he was outstanding as a thinker, a fruitful writer, a committed patron of the arts, a protector of the Indians, a politician, a jurist, an editor, a poet and a mystic. He governed, taught and sanctified.”
But what did he get in return? Castellanos asked. “Enemies, not only in political life but in Church life as well, which forced him to return to Spain in debt and almost a total failure, but he was named Bishop of Osma and died at this post in misery.”
“It is possible to be a good politician. It is possible to be a holy politician as well.”
At the same time, “(i)t is not easy for those who choose what is correct politically instead of what is ‘politically correct.’ It engenders ingratitude, and it brings good not only to those who act thus, but also to those under their governance,” Castellanos said.
In the case of Bishop Juan de Palafox, he added, more than three hundred years had to pass for his heroic virtues to be recognized, “as virtue is not always popular, order is not always obeyed and grudges can last for years when they affect someone’s interests.”