How the Mexican bishops betrayed the Cristeros and Mexican faithful……. July 27, 2015Posted by Tantumblogo in abdication of duty, Basics, catachesis, disaster, episcopate, foolishness, General Catholic, history, Holy suffering, martyrdom, persecution, reading, scandals, self-serving, the struggle for the Church, Tradition.
………with more than a little help from the USCCB predecessor organization National Catholic Welfare Conference (NCWC).
In 1928, the Cristeros controlled most of Jalisco and significant parts of four other provinces. They more or less controlled 3 provinces. Under General Gorostieta, and in spite of US policy which armed Calles’ forces while blockading arms to the Cristeros, more and more victories were obtained. 1929 opened similarly well.
Morally, Archbishops Mora and Diaz continued to advocate that it was impossible to negotiate with leftist Masonic Church-haters who had broken every agreement they had made. But after the death of Mora in 1928, the NCWC and the Coolidge administration put strong pressure on his successor Archbishop Ruiz to make some kind of peace. The Mexican bishops were assured they would receive strong intervention from US ambassador Dwight Morrow and the US government generally.
However, as we shall see, treaties negotiated between Church leadership and hateful, persecuting governments are rarely worth the paper they are written on. There is much to consider below as the Church in this country seems fated to enter into a similar period of persecution.
From this point, I will take up from No God Next Door, pp. 137 – (my emphasis and comments):
Negotiations were opened by the Rev. John J. Burke, CSP, who, according to the “The Church in Mexico,” pamphlet of his NCWC, had no official warrant from the United States administration, but merely the informal statement of President Coolidge’s pleasure, could Mr. Morrow, also informally, arrange a conference between the Mexican government and the Catholic authorities.
Father Burke held conferences with Calles on April 4 and May 17 1928, when an agreement was reached, but this was not ratified until more than a year later, June 4, 1929, when it was signed……. [follows description of the “concessions” made by the Mexican government, which were essentially none. The only modification was to promise to only “register” priests approved by the hierarchy, a promise soon broken.]
On the strength of the good will implied in these concessions, if concessions they be, Archbishop Ruiz announced, as Apostolic Delegate, that “the Mexican clergy will resume religious services pursuant to the laws in force.” Churches were reopened, but “in accordance with the number of priests allowed by the different state governments.” There was further agreement that the bishops would call off the Cristero insurrection, and the government would grant complete amnesty to all the insurrectionists.
The settlement met with general distrust and gravely alarmed the League of Liberty Leaders and their most eminent supporters, lay and cleric…….
The outstanding leaders insisted that submission to the government registration of priests and limitation of their numbers m and to the exclusion of religious teachings from even their own schools, would put them in a worse position that before; and the suppression of the Cristero movement would leave Catholics defenseless against the absolute and unhindered power that this agreement was conferring on the persecutors. [And that is exactly what happened. Just as they were forcing Calles to consider making real concessions, they jumped at the first deal offered, which only regularized and institutionalized the unjust, persecutorial relationship between Church and state. Once the Cristeros were suppressed, the Catholics only bargaining chip would be gone, and there would be nothing to hinder the government. That is exactly what happened.]
No trust could be put in the alleged security for future betterment unless they themselves retained the physical power to enact it; for they were convinced that Mr. Morrow would stand with the Calles gang as he had consistently been doing, and there was no hope of United States support. The promised amnesty would be but a sentence of death for Cristero leaders, for the pledges of the Calles faction were worthless; and thus the Church they were defending, in leaving them helpless, would be doing for Calles what he and his armies had been unable to effect.
In opposing all treaties with faithless and unprincipled persecutors they were able to cite one of the negotiators in support. Bishop Diaz had made several such pronouncements in the United States, and in his final statement to the American people as executive secretary of the Mexican Hierarchy, April 7, 1927, he covers admirably the present situation……[Quote from Diaz’ statement follows]
….No settlement is possible between any right thinking people and an irresponsible tyranny. The government of Mexico is a ruthless bloodstained tyranny against which thousands of its people are in arms; and its Constitution, which was never submitted to the people, is an instrument fashioned by a selfish oligarchy the robbery…….of their own.” It can authorize theft or tyranny; hence there could be no settlement until that doctrine of persecution and thievery is repudiated……
…..”The Church led no armed rebellion; but it was good Catholic Doctrine as it was good American doctrine that forcible resistance to an unjust tyranny is the righteous duty of every citizen; and he was proud to say that his people in Mexico are true to the right and are justifying their faith by the blood of martyrs.”……[But the treaty was enacted nonetheless, due to concerns that the lack of regular religious life was a grave threat to the Faith of all Catholics in Mexico. They chose to be blinded by Calles’ false rhetoric rather than continue in the path of armed resistance. And what came of that?]
……..No peace resulted. Within a week President Portes Gil [a Calles puppet] declared at a Masonic banquet that he would see to it that the Constitution and laws were entirely and strictly enforced; and that as a Mason and as President he had yielded nothing. This was in fact true of the substance of the compact; but now he had publicly repudiated in word the good will he had expressed in signing it; and he and his fellows began at once to repudiate in deeds the amnesty he had definitely pledged.
Within a month five hundred surrendered Cristeros were shot, or murdered in their homes, their property seized, and their persecuted families left destitute; and altogether five thousand Cristeros and hundreds of priests shared the same fate. [This was written in early 1935. The number steadily increased for some years to come. The last Cristero is believed to have been murdered in retribution by the government in 1946] This, with the expulsion of the episcopate and clergy and sisterhoods, leaving but some two hundred registered priests for over fifteen million people, and the stamping of the Moscow brand of atheizing communism on every school and office in the land, are now blazoned to the world the cost of compromise with irresponsible tyranny; and, therewith the lesson, that no compact of liberty is possible unless tyranny should first be uprooted………
And so the Catholic Church in Mexico languished, with barely 300 priests – including 200 “registered priests – to service that population for fifteen million for a decade or more. Almost half the states of Mexico had no priest at all. Even after President Cardenas began to back off the pressure of the persecution, onerous restrictions remained for decades. Some of them survive to this day. The Church did recover after a fashion from this persecution, but never fully. It was a much weaker Church that was then rocked by the revolution which afflicted the entire Church Universal from the late 50s onwards. And now even though Catholicism remains the default, professed religion of about 80% of Mexicans, the large majority of these are weak, superstitious, and frequently given over to all manner of dangerous and destructive practices like “santa muerte.”
This whole episode is instructive for American Catholics. It gives a modern example of an episcopate willing, at the very least, to make disastrous decisions based on what many feel were misguided and exaggerated pastoral concerns. At worst, it shows a hierarchy willing to do anything to cut a deal and resume at least some of their accustomed perquisites. There is a good deal of evidence that it was the bishops who gained most from this “deal.” They were at least allowed to return to the episcopal palaces and resume their pre-persecution lifestyles, for the most part (or is that too harsh an assessment? Fr. Kenny was surprisingly critical of the hierarchy, especially given the time).
Possibly a for instance: the driving force behind the Calles deal that fatally undermined the Cristeros was Archbishop Ruiz. Upon signing the deal, he was elevated Archbishop of Mexico City and Primate of Mexico, or what was left of the Church in Mexico.
A final, brief PS to the excerpt above. In 1933 President Cardenas – the man who ultimately relaxed the persecution – declared the following before the Masonic Anti-Clerical Convention held in Guadalajara – the heart of Catholic Mexico to this day – in 1933: “God is a myth; religion is a fable; the clergy are bureaucrats of a theological farce, and on this basis they wold operate for the emancipation of human thought.”