Daily Archives: April 24, 2006


So I was only semi-serious yesterday when I mentioned that maybe Marx had something to do with the trouble between the Catholic Church and the government of Mexico in the 1920s. I’ve done a little Wikipedia reading, and boy is the situation a whole lot more complicated that that.

When mentioning Marx, I was imagining that, since the 1920s was soon after the 1917 revolution in Russia, that maybe there was some sort of spillover into Mexico. And didn’t Trotsky end up in Mexico? And I was thinking that the Catholic Church was probably involved somehow on the wrong side, on the side of landowners and the oligarchy. That was about all I figured, and mostly all wrong.

Well, the Mexican Revolution started a bit earlier, and is sometimes known as the Mexican Revolution of 1910. So it pre-dates the Bolsheviks, and but anyway was more of a popular uprising against dictatorship, in this case Porfirio Diaz, when he jailed Francisco Madero on election day. There was various back and forth, revolution and counter-revolution, and our pals Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, and of course the United States meddled in things as we always do.

The thing about the Church was a lot more serious than I imagined. The Mexican Constitution of 1917 specifically outlawed monastic vows and orders, nationalized all Church property, prevented worship outside of Church buildings, and denied voting, property holding, or even the right to comment publicly, by Church officials. All this in the land of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

And this wasn’t just idle stuff, laws on the books only, as the government violently enforced these laws too, especially President Calles starting in 1924. And so all this led to the Cristero War, beginning on New Year’s Day 1927. Imagine, revolutionaries naming themselves after Christ himself.

So it’s like at first it was the Church on the side of the oligarchy, but then the revolutionaries oppressed the Church, so then the Church became counter-revolutionary, and then peasants revolted in support of the Church, or something like that. I can’t even begin to figure this out.