The archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico, Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez expressed his support this week for a Vatican decision to halt the ordination of married deacons in the Archdiocese of San Cristobal de las Casas and thus put an end to the so-called “indigenous church.”
Cardinal Iñiguez, who participated in several Vatican meetings on the problem of the permanent deaconate in Chiapas as way to gradually impose a married clergy on southern Mexico, said the matter was “thoroughly analyzed for a significant period of time in different meetings at the Vatican; and it was determined that since there are many married deacons in the Diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas—340, with only 80 priests—that it was time to start fostering priestly vocations.”
The cardinal said he was especially supportive of the letter sent by Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, to Bishop Felipe Arizmendi, calling for an end to the promotion of the so-called “indigenous church” inspired by liberation theology.
“There is only one Church of Christ in the world, and it is Catholic, and although it is composed of different cultures, races, peoples and nations, we all form one Church and nobody, even though he has his own culture with his own characteristics, can form a separate church,” he wrote.
Reaction in Chiapas
According to Bishop Arizmendi, the indigenous communities met the news with “pain and sadness. “They feel marginalized for being indigenous and we have tried to make them see that the Church’s negative answer is not because they are indigenous but rather because of the concern the Holy See has that the concept of an ‘autochthonous church’ is an erroneous,” he said during a press conference.
He also announced an influential group of deacons would organize a gathering on March 24. “It won’t be a protest, but rather a pilgrimage to ask God to help us discern where are going wrong and to correct us,” he said.