Mexican bishop says Church and State not rival institutions


The secretary general of the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico, Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, said this week the continuing collaboration between Church and State is an irreversible process because both entities are not rival institutions, as some myths that have been around since the Cristeros wars of the earlier 1900’s would have people believe.

“The first thing is to recognize that we have an historical problem,” the bishop said.  The difficulties that arose during the Mexican revolution of the early 20th century “led us to believe that we were rival institutions that couldn’t work together, let alone coexist,” he explained.  Such myths are difficult to erase, he added, because “they become part of a cultural mindset.”

Bishop Aguiar comments came in response to criticisms leveled by popular Mexican writer Carlos Monsivais, who attacked President Vicente Fox for not defending the secular state and governing secretary Carlos Abascal for expressing his Catholic faith in public.

Bishop Aguiar noted that the situation has improved over the years, especially with the Constitutional reform of 1992, which resulted in greater freedom of association and religion.

He said the situation was made difficult, however, by the fact that “for the first time there are high-ranking officials, such as the governing secretary, with a very clear awareness of their Catholic identity, and they express it explicitly at the same time that they are working a high levels of the government.”

Therefore, Bishop Aguiar said, there is need for people to realize that “believers and non-believers alike can share power at the same time.”

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