“We must remember that in the last century there was a religious persecution that led to laws coming out that prohibited worship in public places outside of the church, and also prohibited religious habits from being worn outside these premises,” he said.
The Catholic Church was severely persecuted in the 1920s, the years when the Cristero War took place in which thousands of Catholics died, many of them martyred.
In 1926, President Plutarco Elías Calles promulgated the so-called Calles Law, making it a crime, among other things related to faith, for a priest to wear a cassock out in public or for religion to be taught in schools.
Aguilar told ACI Prensa that the ban was only eliminated in 1992, under the presidency of Carlos Salinas de Gortari, when relations between the Church and the state were restored.
Until then, he noted, “many priests had to dress in an ordinary or normal way,” and couldn’t wear “the cassock, the Roman collar, or in some cases the religious habit.”
However, “in some places, the men and women religious continued to use these habits and there was no penalty by the government,” the priest said.
Carlos Salinas de Gortari was president of Mexico from 1988 to 1994. During his administration, some laws that affected the clergy were repealed, and in 1992 diplomatic relations with the Vatican were officially reestablished.
“Now you can openly wear the cassock, the Roman collar or any religious habit in public places,” Aguilar explained.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Walter Sánchez Silva is a senior writer for ACI Prensa (https://www.aciprensa.com). With more than 15 years of experience, he has reported from important ecclesial events in Europe, Asia and Latin America during the pontificates of Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.