The newspaper for the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, El Semanario, warned this week that overcoming the confusion between anti-clericalism and secularism is a goal that is still decades away from being achieved in Mexico.
An article, signed by Father Maurilio Martinez Tamayo, offered a reflection on the vision of secularism that prevails in the country, amidst a barrage of attempts by government officials and political groups to silence religious leaders.
Fr. Martinez began by pointing out that Mexico has always been a religious country despite attempts to silence the faith.
Neither “the separation of Church and State, promoted by Benito Juarez Garcia’s legal reforms,” which stripped the Church “of her material goods and put her in a position of subordination,” nor “the civil war, caused by the drastic application of anti-clerical laws” were able to change the profound faith of Mexicans.
“Is the current-day secularism proclaimed and demanded by so many the overcoming of the spiritual divorce we have experienced or is the revitalization of the old-fashioned anti-clericalism that the rest of the world overcame a long time ago?” the priest asked.
“President Jose Lopez Portillo Pacheco explained to Pope John Paul II that Mexico was a ‘surrealist’ country, since as a religious country it had non-religious governments and, I might add, was governed by anti-religious laws,” Fr. Martinez wrote.
Today, the expression of this surrealism is evident in the anti-clerical and anti-religious spirit of the “secular state” touted by so many, he continued, adding, Mexico is a religious country that has been forced to wear secular garb that doesn’t fit. “When a religious minister expresses an opinion about the national life and judges the actions of politicians, just as any Mexican citizen can do in making use of the right to freedom of expression, the enemies of religious life launch threats against him for daring to raise his voice against the actions of officials,” the priest noted.
Today’s secular mentality needs to be purified “of the seriously grave error of seeing religion as something that must be put up with … without seeing the positive values, the human and spiritual dimension, that religions give to individuals in particular and to society in general,” Father Martinez said.