Page 9, 19th February 1937

19th February 1937
Page 9
Page 9, 19th February 1937 — MEXICAN CATHOLICISM BLAZES OUT

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Organisations: Catholic Church


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Government Accepts Failure

From Our Special Correspondent In the midst of the extremely complicated news about Mexico, two things at least stand out.

First is the way in which the Faith has been kept alive in the hearts of the Mexicans throughout the long years of persecution. The second is the avowal of failure on the part of the persecuting Government to drive religion out of the country.

Partly, it seems, owing to pressure from the United States, and partly in order to restore peace and goodwill, otherwise unobtainable, President Cardenas has moved in the direction of religious tolerance. The Catholic reaction to this cautious reopening of the subject has been so strong as to frighten the authorities, who appear to have considerably underestimated the vitality of the faithful.

Fighting for Churches

Thus in Orizaba, in the apparently largely Red state of Vera Cruz, there has been so strong a movement to have the churches reopened at once. that the local authorities have decided forcibly to close and guard the churches again.

The indignation of the Catholics was largely due to the riot in which a woman was killed after the police had broken into a house where Mass was being secretly celebrated.

It appears that 50,000 Catholics, ringing bells and letting off squibs, rushed on to the Municipal Palace in order to force the Authorities to open the churches again. This the latter at first refused to do. but later they had to give in, and once again the churches are open, though public Masses are not yet being celebrated.

A Typical Case The conflict in Orizaba appears to be typical of what is happening throughout Mexico, where the people in general are forcing the Government to fulfil their intentions to restore freedom of worship. It is reported that in Mexico City Masses are now being publicly celebrated.

Part of the new plan of restoring peace in Mexico consisted of an amnesty decree to free 10,000 persons. It is announced that in virtue of this decree, five Catholics accused of having furnished arms to a rebel have been liberated, but it is uncertain bow far it will apply in general to " religious " offences, and how long it will last.

Uncertain Future Judging by the strength, number, and popularity of Catholic demonstrations, it would seem that the Government has been more optimistic than wise from its own point of view. It will he interesting to see how far it is willing and able to keep its word in the face of a country that has remained so surprisingly CathoFlicdelspite all the attempts to root out the Faith. The New York Times recently stated in an Editorial that the cessation of the persecution of the Catholic Church would prove a gesture that would put an end to the only important obstacle which prevents cordial understanding between Mexico and

the United States. This is a significant pronouncement, and will weigh heavily in the councils of the Mexican Authorities in the future.

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