Mexican presidential candidates meet with Pope Francis

2024 Mexican presidential candidates meet with Pope Francis Mexican presidential candidates Xóchitl Gálvez and Claudia Sheinbaum met separately with Pope Francis. | Crédit: Xóchitl Gálvez, Claudia Sheinbaum

Xóchitl Gálvez Ruiz and Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo, who are running for president of Mexico in this year’s elections, met in private individual audiences with Pope Francis this week at the Vatican.

Mexico’s presidential elections are scheduled for June 2. Citizens will elect not only the next president, who will succeed Andrés Manuel López Obrador, but also new members of the federal Congress as well as state governors and mayors.

The Vatican Press Office has not released any official statement regarding Pope Francis’ meetings with Gálvez and Sheinbaum. In a Feb. 15 press conference, Gálvez said her audience with the Holy Father took place on Feb. 13 and lasted approximately 40 minutes.

The candidate said her meeting with the pontiff was “of a spiritual nature,” as she described herself as “a profoundly Catholic practicing woman.”

Gálvez said she spoke with Pope Francis about various topics, including his encyclical Fratelli Tutti (Brothers All), published in 2020.

“I was able to converse with him about the encyclical Fratelli Tutti, which is inspired by the life of Francis of Assisi and of course it speaks of brotherly love. And I want a Mexico without divisions, with love, an open fraternity that allows each person to be recognized and loved whether he is close by or far away, regardless of where he was born,” Gálvez said.

“We also talked about the issue of migration and how Mexico, unfortunately, has not been able to respect the human rights of migrants,” she added.

Meanwhile, on Feb. 15 Sheinbaum posted on X that she met with Pope Francis in the private office he maintains at his residence, Casa Santa Marta.  

In her post, Sheinbaum noted that her meeting with Pope Francis “was an exceptional hour that I will never forget, with a simple and warm way that shows his greatness.”

“I brought him as a gift some beautiful pieces from the Wixárika people” who live in the region known as Sierra Madre Occidental in Mexico, she said.

“In addition to being the highest representative of the Catholic Church, the religion of the vast majority of my people, I have profound admiration for his humanist thinking,” the presidential candidate said.

Sheinbaum added that Pope Francis gave her “great advice about life.”

Who are Gálvez and Sheinbaum?

Sheinbaum, a member of the ruling Morena Party, headed by current president López Obrador, heads the leftist coalition Together We Make History; while Gálvez, of the opposition National Action Party, represents the Broad Front for Mexico, a coalition of political parties with similar views. 

Both candidates have expressed views that distance themselves from Catholic teaching on abortion and same-sex marriage.

In a 2020 post on social media, Gálvez said that abortion is an “individual decision by the woman” and added to the message the slogans “AbortoLegalYa” (“Legal abortion now”) and “QueSubaLaMarea” (“Let the tide rise”). 

Gálvez has also expressed support for the “LGBTTTIQ+” and “gender identity” movements as well as the legalization of marijuana.

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Sheinbaum, who until recently headed the Mexico City government, for her part has called the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022 “a setback.” Her secretary of health at the time, Oliva López Arellano, offered the Mexican capital as an option for foreigners seeking an abortion.

Additionally, during the time she headed the Mexico City government, Sheinbaum supported a decree that allows adolescents over 12 years of age to change the “gender identity” on their birth certificate through an administrative process.

Earlier this year, on Jan. 13, both Gálvez and Sheinbaum held individual meetings with the Mexican bishops to discuss “social issues” in the context of the 115th Plenary Assembly of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference.

Mexican actor and “Sound of Freedom” producer Eduardo Verástegui, who unsuccessfully tried to get on the ballot as an independent candidate for president, said at the time he announced his bid that “we have two candidates who are exactly the same… Is that the opposition?”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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