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REGINA Inspiring. Intelligent. Catholic.

The Secret Catholic Insider’s Guide to

Mexico

A Catholic QuinceaĂąara for Trinity

Volume 12 | February 2015 www.reginamag.com

Regina Magazine

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Editorial Editor

Photography

Webmaster Jim Bryant

Michael Durnan Beverly De Soto Jim & Brycie Loepp

Writers

Special Thanks

Beverly De Soto

Donna Sue Berry Michael Durnan Harry Stevens Ed Masters Peter De Trolio Teresa Limjoco Beverly De Soto Dan Flaherty Designer Helen Stead

Editorial Contact

Editor.regina@gmail.com

Volume 19 The Secret catholic Insider Guide to Mexico www.reginamag.com

Ricardo Lara and Nathaly Robles Maria Albers Lucy Neill and family Mr. & Mrs. Felipe Alanis Jack Oostveen Edgar G Fernandez Derik Castillo Guajardo Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Frank and Irene Denke Richard and Lorena Bass Una Voce Mexico The Priestly Fraternity of St Peter

REGINA MAGAZINE is published six times a year at www.reginamag.com. REGINA draws together extraordinary Catholic writers, photographers, videographers and artists with a vibrant faith. We’re interested in everything under the Catholic sun — from work and family to religious and eternal life. We seek the Good, the Beautiful and the True – in our Tradition and with our Godgiven Reason. We believe in one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. We are joyfully loyal to the Magisterium. We proudly celebrate our literary and artistic heritage and seek to live and teach the authentic Faith. We are grateful for this treasure laid up for us for two thousand years by the Church — in her liturgy, her clergy, her great gift of Christendom and the Catholic culture that we are the primary bearers of. REGINA MAGAZINE is under the patronage of Our Lady, Mary Most Holy. We pray that she lays our humble work at the feet of her Son, and that His Will be done. 2

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Contents The Virgencita of Los Lagos.........................................04

116

A Catholic Quinceanara...............................................22 The Secrets of the Tilma...............................................30

Aztec Demons

The Testing of Bishop Juan De Zummaraga.............46 The Lost History of Catholic Mexico...........................60 Mexico’s Magnificent Son: Miguel Pro.......................72

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The Real Hidalgo...........................................................84

State of the Faith in Mexico

Masonic Mexico............................................................99 Aztec Demons.............................................................116 Beyond Belief: The Santa Muerte Death Cult.........140 The State of the Faith in Mexico ...............................148

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The “New Age’ in Mexico...........................................158 Apostasy in Mexico.....................................................160

Lost Catholic History

46 Bishop Juan de Zumarraga

Buying Happiness in Mexico.....................................166 Abortion on Demand.................................................176 Mexico’s Marriage Problem.......................................186 Imagine No Heaven....................................................194 Spotlight on Mexico’s Church...................................204 FSSP’s ‘Extraordinary’ New House of Formation.....222 The Mass of Ages on a ​Traffic Island.........................240 The Latin Mass in Mexico Today................................258

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Mexico’s MiracleWorking Virgin Our Lady of Saint John of the Lakes Article By: Teresa Limjoco

Photo Credit: Beverly Stevens & Michael Durnan

In 1542, the Spanish Father Miguel de Bologna brought a statue of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception to Jalisco- known then as San Juan Bautista Mezquititlan, inhabited by Nochiztlecan Indians. A small thatched-roof chapel first housed the statue. Ana Lucia and the Virgencita By 1623, a couple of elderly Indians, Pedro Antes and his wife, Ana Lucia, were the custodians of the statue as well as the chapel. Ana Lucia venerated the image, having a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. She also claimed she had conversations with Our Lady, which most dismissed as the delusions of an elderly woman.

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THEY FLOCK TO HER in central Mexico, northeast of Guadalajara, the second most-visited shrine in Mexico is besieged by millions of Mexicans every year.

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Mexico’s Miracle-Working Virgin

EVEN THE MOST JADED OBSERVER IS STUNNED INTO RESPECTFUL SILENCE, watching Mexicans --often walking on their knees -- beg the intercession and protection of this 16th century statue of the Virgin Mary.

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MERE SUPERSTITION? Then why are the walls covered with ‘ex-votos’ today? What is actually happening here?

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THE BASILICA’S SACRISTY TODAY WITH PAINTINGS OF THE VIRGENCITA’S MIRACLES: One hundred years after the statue came from Spain, it had nearly been forgotten. No longer placed above the altar but kept in the sacristy, where only old Ana Lucia paid it any attention.

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EX VOTO THANKING THE VIRGIN FOR THE HEALTH OF A CHILD BORN CRITICALLY ILL: By 1631, devotion to the miraculous image grew so much that a larger sanctuary had to be built.

In 1623, a family of circus acrobats visited the town. Like trapeze artists, the father, mother and their two daughters dazzled the audience by seeming to fly through the air with the clever use of ropes. To make the act more suspenseful, swords and daggers were placed on the ground below them with the blades pointing upwards. One day, while practicing for a performance, their 6-year-old daughter fell

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and was mortally wounded by a blade. Her parents could not save their child and prepared her body for burial at the chapel of Our Lady of San Juan. At the chapel, seventy-eight-year-old Ana Lucia met the grieving parents. Touched with profound pity, she advised the parents to believe in La Virgencita, who could restore her daughter to them. Ana took the statue from the sacristy, laid it on the child’s dead body and began to pray. Moments later, some


Mexico’s Miracle-Working Virgin

THE VIRGENCITA APPEARS IN A MODERN HOSPITAL: In 1678, the Bishop of Guadalajara ordered that all the miracles attributed to the image in the last decade be recorded.

movement was noted beneath the burial cloth. The cloth was unwrapped, and the girl was found to be alive and completely healed. At the time of the first miracle, the statue, which was made of “pasta de Michoacan”- a mixture of cornstalks and glue- was in a poor state. The grateful father offered to take the statue to Guadalajara to have it restored. The pastor gave his permission and sent two Indians from the village to accompany the statue.

When they arrived in Guadalajara, a man approached them, asking if they needed someone to repair the holy statue. He offered his services as an artist. Because his price was so good, the statue was given to the stranger to repair. A few days later, he returned with the beautifully restored statue. He left soon after, his identity remaining a mystery to all.

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All of this information was recorded by one Nicolas de Arevalo. Today, the faithful create ‘ex-votos’ telling the stories of their miracles attributed to the Virgencita. A century later, the massive crowds had outgrown the sanctuary; construction of a new church was begun in November 1732. 14

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DESIGNED IN THE MEXICAN BAROQUE STYLE with an decorated faรงade and unadorned lower walls of the bell towers, it was completed almost 60 years later.

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THE MIRACULOUS STATUE IS SET ON A PLATFORM WITH AN UPTURNED CRESCENT MOON. It measures about a foot tall, and the face is smooth, slightly dark, and delicately sculpted. The hair is dark brown and pulled back from the face. The large, dark brown eyes are quite detailed for such a small image. Her hands are joined in prayer with delicate fingers slightly apart. She is dressed in a white gown under a blue mantle, representing Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.

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Mexico’s Miracle-Working Virgin

ON AUGUST 15, 1904, the statue was liturgically crowned by the Archbishop of Guadalajara, Don Jose Jesus Ortiz. Based on the great devotion to Our Lady of St John of the Lakes, the age of the statue, and the many miracles attributed to Our Lady’s intercession, authorization for the coronation was granted by Pope St Pius X. The gold crown used in the ceremony weighs six pounds and measures seven inches high. It is encrusted with diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds, almost 200 in all. Another unusual feature of the statue is its incredible longevity. Made of cornstalks and glue, it should have deteriorated much sooner than the many centuries it has lasted. It remains today in excellent condition.

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ALTHOUGH THE BASILICA IS ALMOST ALWAYS FULL, at the end of January every year a large pilgrimage is held which draws more than a million people from all over Mexico to see their Virgencita.

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A Catholic Quinceañera for Trinity Interview By: Donna Sue Berry

Photo Credits: Jim & Brycie Loepp

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t’s not a Sacrament, though it always includes a Mass. The Mexican Quinceañera (variously called fiesta de quince años, fiesta de quinceañera, quince años, quinceañero or simply quince in Latin American countries and ex-patriate communities) is a ‘coming of age’ ceremony. The origins of Quinceañera are variously credited to the Aztec or Mayan Indians, though because these were pre-literate cultures there is no historical documentation to support this. People today believe that these were ceremonial rites of passage that included parental speeches beseeching their adolescent daughters to become wise and worthy women, well prepared to move into their future. After the Spanish colonized Mexico, it became a Mexican Catholic tradition in which a young lady who has turned 15 consecrates her life to the Blessed Virgin Mary, during the Holy Sacrifice

of a Mass, celebrated for her. This Mass is said with the intention for the graces necessary for her travel along the right path to either a religious life or matrimony. Traditionally, a young lady earned this 15th year celebration by her example, her growth in good and holy works, her purity -- and by showing her parents that she was capable of running a household by herself. Today, Quinceañera is a significant cultural ritual for Mexican Catholics, intended to solidify a girl’s commitment to her faith. During the Quinceañera Mass, the young girl receives Holy Communion, makes an act of consecration to the Virgin Mary, presents the Virgin Mary with a bouquet of flowers, and receives gifts that are blessed by the priest. On the occasion of Trinity’s Quinceañera, her parents Angel and Jessica Rivera granted an interview to REGINA Magazine’s Donna Sue Berry.

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A Catholic Quinceañera for Trinity

“The most important part of a Quinceañera is the Most Sacred Holy Mass because this is where she presents her good fruits; that is, herself to God. ”

REGINA: Who may participate in the Quinceañera? Angel and Jessica Rivera: The young lady turning 15. Modernism has brought in many other traditions that make it look more like a wedding, but it is not. We kept it traditional and only had our daughter participate. REGINA: Is a Quinceañera like a socialite making her debut? Angel and Jessica Rivera: No and yes. It becomes a social debut in a way. Relatives, friends, and the community gather together to celebrate her walk with Christ and her purity. That is why her dress is supposed to be white. REGINA: Is it not a Beauty Pageant? Angel and Jessica Rivera: No.

REGINA: Where does it take place? Angel and Jessica Rivera: Traditionally, at a Catholic church for the Mass and for her consecration; in the home or at a hall for the party afterwards, which is more of a thanksgiving celebration -- a thanksgiving that she chose and chooses to continue a holy life in God and the Sacraments. REGINA: Why is there a Mass to celebrate her Quinceañera? Angel and Jessica Rivera: The most important part of a Quinceañera is the Most Sacred Holy Mass because this is where she presents her good fruits; that is, herself to God. Receiving Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, a blessing from the priest, and consecrating herself to Our Lady helps her continue her path in purity and holiness.

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REGINA: What is the significance of the age “15”? Angel and Jessica Rivera: This age is celebrated because Our Lady, the Mother of God, who stayed pure and holy all her life, at 15 years old was chosen by God to be the Mother of the second Divine Person of the Blessed Trinity. (Editor’s Note: This is a tradition in some parts of the world, though not an official teaching of the Church.)

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Jessica and Angel Rivera and their six sons celebrate their daughter Trinity’s Quinceaùera 28

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A Catholic Quinceañera for Trinity

“The young lady receives her last doll showing she is no longer a child, but is now a young woman”

REGINA: What is the Blessed Virgin Mary’s role in this tradition?

REGINA: Tell us about the dance that Trinity and her dad had?

Angel and Jessica Rivera: The young lady having a Quinceañera has sought Our Lady for guidance as a child and will continue to do so throughout her life.

Angel and Jessica Rivera: All things celebrated during the party may vary. Usually, the father dances a special dance with his daughte,r showing his love and support as well as their growing bond as father and daughter.

REGINA: What is the significance of the doll at the celebration party and dance? Angel and Jessica Rivera: The young lady receives her last doll showing she is no longer a child, but is now a young woman, and also receives and wears her first heels for the same reasons.

A very special moment for a Hispanic family. The bond between the father and daughter needs to be a very strong one so that she doesn’t stray in the wrong direction. After all, he should represent the relationship we should have with God. •

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The Growing Enigma of the Tilma Most Catholics, especially Mexicans, are familiar with the story of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego in the mid 16th century. Most, however, have no idea that the enigma of this 500-year old artifact is actually growing as time goes by.

Who was the original ‘Lady of Guadalupe’? ‘Guadalupe’ is a Spanish word, unknown in Mexico at the time of the apparitions, which occurred a scant ten years after Cortes conquered the Aztecs. Yet it was the term that the ‘beautiful lady’ which Juan Diego reported that she used to describe herself. What was the connection? The origins of the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe actually began centuries before, in Rome. When Pope Gregory the Great was elected in 590 AD, a deadly pestilence had been devastating the Eternal City. In imploring divine assistance for the plague-stricken populace, Gregory had a miraculous image of the Virgin Mary carried in a procession

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Later, the Pope entrusted St. Isidore with the statue, to be brought as a gift to Leander, the Bishop of Seville. A violent storm arose at sea during the voyage to Spain, whereupon the image was brought on deck; the storm abated and a great calm came over the sea. The statue remained in a church in Seville until the Islamic invasion of Spain in the early 8th century. According to local legend, when Seville was taken by the Moors in 712, a group of Catholic priests fled northward and hid the statue in the hills near the Guadalupe River in remote Extremadura.

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The Growing Enigma of the Tilma

The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe (left) was said to have been carved by St Luke the Evangelist. When St. Michael the Archangel famously appeared to the saintly Pontiff to announce that the plague had abated, miraculous cures took place.

Six hundred years later, in 1326, it is said that the Blessed Virgin appeared to a poor herdsman in this area, Gil Cordero. She restored his cow -- who had died -- to life and the advised him to instruct the local priest and people to remove the stones that blocked the entrance to a nearby cave, where they would find her image. The Virgin also restored Cordero’s son -who had also recently died -- to life, and a chapel was erected on the spot she requested by King Alphonso of Castile; this later evolved into a great Hieronymite monastery. In 1492, Christopher Columbus made a pilgrimage to pray at this shrine before his famous voyages; in fact, he carried a replica of the Virgin of Guadalupe of Spain on his first voyage to the Americas. In 1521, Cortes, the conqueror of the Aztecs, also visited the Guadalupe Shrine both before and after his voyage to the New World; there, he placed himself and his men under her protection. It is said his last act before he died in 1547 was to kiss a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Clearly, this particular image of Our Lady held great significance for some of the pious Spanish explorers. But the term ‘our lady of Guadalupe’ would have meant nothing to Indians of their time.

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ON DECEMBER 9, 1531 Our Lady made the first in a series of five appearances to the Indian convert, 59 year old Juan Diego. Before his baptism Juan Diego was known by the name of Cuauhtlatohuac and Mary addressed him as such, using an affectionate diminutive translated loosely into Spanish as “Juanito” or ‘Johnny’ in English. Juan Diego and his wife had converted to Christianity just two years before, two of the very few Indians interested in the Faith. He was a recent widower. 34

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The Growing Enigma of the Tilma

The Mexico Connection Ten years after Cortes’s victory and half a world away from Spain, the story of the Patroness of the Americas began. The ‘beautiful lady’ told him in his native Aztec language of Nahuatl that she was the Mother of God. She asked him to go to the bishop and tell him that she wanted a temple built where they were standing, Tepeyacac Hill. It was after her fourth apparition that Juan Diego appeared before the gate of Bishop de Zumarraga with the ‘proof’ that he’d been requested to provide. After tenaciously defending the treasure in his wrapped-up tilma from the prying eyes of Church officials, the Indian was finally admitted to see de Zumarraga, with a translator. When Juan Diego opened his tilma, fresh Castilian roses came cascading to the floor -- and the good bishop and witnesses fell to their knees in astonishment. For not only were Castilian roses unknown in Mexico -- and impossible to bring to bloom in the dead of winter in that high-altitude city -- but Juan Diego’s tilma was glowing with a miraculous image. But, there was no name given to the image at this time. The earliest account of the apparitions, the Nican Mopohua, reports that the Virgin Mary also appeared to Juan Bernardino, the uncle of Juan Diego, and told him that the image left on the tilma was to be known by the name “the Perfect Virgin, Holy Mary of Guadalupe.” During this fifth apparition, Juan Bernardino was miraculously cured of a fever.

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Indigenous cu ly-understood

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ulture relied heavily on iconography -- the language of commond visual symbols. Here's some of these icons and their meanings:

MARY’S HAIRSTYLE literally communicated her virginity. In Aztec culture, only virgins wore their hair parted in the middle and free-flowing.

MARY’S BLACK SASH, an ‘encinte’ in Spanish, was customarily worn by pregnant women. A cross-shaped image, symbolizing the cosmos and called nahui-ollin, is inscribed beneath this sash, above her womb. To the Indians this would signal that she was pregnant with the Cosmos.

THE POSITION OF THE BROACH at her throat held a special meaning for the Indians, who would customarily carve a similar shape, inset with a semiprecious green stone, in the same position on the bodies of their stone idols. In their iconography, this symbolized the ‘heart’ of the deity, and hence its immortality. The cross inscribed in Mary’s broach communicated to them the source of immortality -the Cross of Christ, in the heart of Mary. THE CLOAK OF MARY is of a turquoise hue, the color of royalty, reserved for the divine couple Ometecuhtli and Omecihuatl. THE TILMA’S DEPICTION of Mary in the foreground --in front of the sun -- indicated that she was greater than their fearsome and powerful sun deity Quetzalcoatl, the “feathered serpent.”

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OVER THE CENTURIES, the Church in Mexico has consistently interpreted these two separate images of Our Lady of Guadalupe -- one in Spain and one in Mexico --as symbolic of the merging of two peoples and cultures. This is a literal interpretation. Mary appeared on the tilma as a mestizo woman -- a racial mixture of the European Spaniards and the central American Indians. While this is a commonplace today, it must be remembered that in 1531 -- just ten years after the Spaniards invaded Mexico -- such mixing of races and cultures was almost unheard of.

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The Growing Enigma of the Tilma

What Science Shows Us Remarkably, as time goes on, the tilma has become more -- not less -- mysterious. First, there’s the physical makeup of the tilma itself. Woven from cactus fibers and hung for more than 100 years in a primitive chapel -- an unshielded environment exposed to constant candle smoke, damp and other damaging factors -- this delicate fabric should have wasted away in a matter of a few decades. Yet it still remains to this day, nearly 500 years later. There is far more to the tilma however, only discovered in recent years: • The overall image of Our Lady cannot be explained by science. Both its color rendering and brightness enduring over the centuries are inexplicable. All pigments known to exist in Mexico 500 years ago would have faded. • Careful testing using modern artistic restoration techniques have demonstrated that the image was made using no underdrawing, no sizing, no protective over-varnish and no brush strokes. • Under high magnification the image shows no sign of fading or cracking, after almost 500 years.

• Strangely, the pink color of the gown is transparent to infra-red light, unlike all other pigments of this hue, which are opaque. • Power magnification has revealed the fact that the coarse weave of the tilma was deliberately used in a precise manner to give depth to the face on the image. • Viewed close up, the face and hands are of a grey-white color which gradually becomes olive as one backs away -- an impossible accomplishment for any human painter. Scientists have compared this to the same effect in nature with iridescent bird feathers, butterfly scales and brightly-colored beetles. • Beginning in 1929 and continuing until today, photographers, scientists and opthalmologists have demonstrated the existence of images of human figures in both of the Virgin’s eyes. These are found in the precise location wherein figures reflected by a live human eye would be found in a photograph. The figures have been extensively analyzed and seem to correspond precisely to distortion and dissymmetry predicted by the laws of optics.

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• The shape, placement and size of human figures of St. Juan Diego and the interpreter present when the tilma was opened imply that this was literally what the Virgin saw as she stared out from the image on the tilma at that moment. As to whether this could have been created by a human painter, the placement of these images in her eyes is impossible to replicate on an even, flat surface. • The stars on the mantle of Our Lady of Guadalupe match identically a portion of the night sky -- constellations visible in Mexico on December 12, A.D. 1531. • In 1785 (some sources claim 1791) a workman accidentally spilled acid on the side of the image, and while a stain can still be seen, the acid did not damage either the tilma or the image.

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The Growing Enigma of the Tilma

“The enigma of the tilma has piqued the interest of believers and scientists -- and the efforts of Mexican politically-motivated disparagers -- through the ages.�

Parallels have been drawn between the tilma and the Shroud of Turin. As Our Lord left His image on the Shroud of Turin as proof of His victory over death, some say, so too did Our Lady of Guadalupe leave her image on the tilma as proof of her victory over the death cult of the Aztecs. Our Lady of Guadalupe's Presence The image of Guadalupe has exerted powerful influences in the last 500 years. It was carried into the famous Battle of Lepanto in 1571 by Don Juan of Austria. A Mexican convert named St. Philip of Jesus would bring his devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe as a missionary to Japan, where he would be martyred in the year 1597. In the years 1687-1688 her image and devotion would make its way across the Pacific to the Philippines. In 1999, the Church officially proclaimed her the Patroness of the Americas, the Empress of Latin America, and the Protectress of Unborn Children.

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The Growing Enigma of the Tilma

WHEREAS TODAY THE BASILICA AREA IS GUARDED BY FEDERAL POLICE, during the Mexican government’s persecution of the Church in the 1920’s an attempt was made to destroy the unguarded image. On November 14, 1921 a large bomb concealed under an elaborate floral piece detonated in front of the image -- just below the main altar exploded during a High Mass. The explosion ripped through the building, destroying all the stained glass windows in the Basilica, displacing huge chunks of marble and causing a huge, bronze crucifix to be twisted like molten taffy. In a miraculous escape, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the glass that protected it as well as the celebrant and altar servers were completely unharmed. The men who brought the bomb hidden in the floral piece were later traced to the highest levels of the Mexican government.

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The Growing Enigma of the Tilma

On a recent visit to the Basilica, REGINA staffers were astonished to observe the reactions of Mexican men to their first view of the tilma. Swagger turned instantly into respect. Smirks evaporated. Cynical sidelong glances morphed into upturned faces filled with awe. Their eyes filled with tears, the backs of their hands furtively wiping their faces, many men retired quietly afterwards to an inconspicuous corner to cry, alone. Why?

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It appears the relationship that the Mother of God established with St. Juan Diego almost 500 years ago still holds true. And as it’s been said that Our Lady of Guadalupe will play a pivotal role in the next phase of the war against the culture of death, perhaps this will be her chosen battlefield. “She is our mother,” two such visitors told us, simply. “You know for Mexicans, for many of us, life is hard. Out there, we are alone. It is not easy. But here, with her, we are home. She is our mother.”

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The Testing of Bishop Juan de Zumarraga Article By: Dan Flaherty

Photo Credits: Michael Durnan, Beverly Stevens and Wikipedia Commons

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t wasn’t supposed to happen this way to Juan de Zumarraga. He had lived a relatively privileged life in the Spain of the 15th century. Born to a noble family in 1468, he came of age in the newly re-conquered Spain that Isabella and Ferdinand had liberated from seven centuries of Islamic rule.

The Faith received a new lease on life in those years. Juan de Zumarraga entered the Franciscan order and later even enjoyed a friendship with Emperor Charles V, grandson of the Catholic Monarchs. This led to important appointments, most notably one to a court that interviewed women accused of witchcraft. He later was to write about this experience, observing that ‘witches’ were merely women possessed of hallucinations.

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A summons from the Emperor But such assignments paled before what Juan de Zumarraga would face as he would be tested beyond his wildest dreams. It was while he was in semi-retirement as head of the Franciscan friary in sleepy Abrojo, between Vallodolid and the university city of Salamanca, that the summons from the Emperor came. He was 59, quite late in life for the era in which he lived. And his moment would arrive in an unlooked for-discovery, a place no one could have ever have imagined existed -- a heathen land literally on the other side of the world. The Spanish Crown had gotten word back of Cortes’s conquest of the Aztecs in Mexico and Spanish leadership—both religious and secular—was being appointed. It was Father de Zumarraga’s friendship with the Emperor and the great trust that Charles V placed in him that landed him the appointment as first bishop of Mexico—or “New Spain.” There were problems right from the outset. He had to leave for the New World before being formally consecrated a bishop by the pope, so he wielded no actual ecclesiastical authority. Father de Zumarraga had a further responsibility—he was appointed to the office called “Protector Of The Indians.” And this office would bring him great trials.

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A child of the Sixties, she hiked the Way of St James alone.

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Defending the Indians The Franciscans were unabashed defenders of the ‘Indian’ people in what they called ‘New Spain’, believing them to hold the same rights before God as everyone else. And de Zumarraga was no exception. Time and again, he would clash with Spanish officials in the civil government, frequently on behalf of the Indians. This included his 1529 proposal to the Crown that all matters pertaining to the Indian peoples—particularly criminal charges— be handled by clergy. The Crown declined to take him up on that. This later proved to be greatly to the detriment of the indigenous people. Just how hard did de Zumarraga fight for the Indians? Historical records show that on no less than thirty-four occasions his secular adversaries filed complaints against him before the Spanish court. What was he trying to do? Father de Zumarraga was working to establish schools for Indian boys and girls. It is in this context that he received a visitor named Juan Diego in December of 1531, a little more than two years after his arrival in Mexico. 50

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The Patrolman’s Fraternity of St. Michael Do good. Avoid evil. Join today.

The Patrolman’s Fraternity of St. Michael

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The Indian from Tepeyac hill Zumarraga was a loyal son of the Church, and like officials through the ages, he showed tremendous prudence when the claim of visitations from the Mother of God was made. Though Father de Zumarraga was firmly in line with this tradition, he invited Juan Diego to come and visit again. On that second visit, de Zumarraga made his now well-known request that some sort of sign be given to Diego to prove that he was witnessing the supernatural. And the peasant Indian returned with roses in his tilma, which unbeknownst to him was embedded with the image of what we know now as ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe.’ Kneeling in front of Juan Diego’s proffered tilma before his entire astonished company that December evening, the Franciscan knew it was real.

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Summoned to Spain It would be a mistake to think that the apparitions suddenly made de Zumarraga’s life easier. To the contrary, the scandal that the tilma raised was such that his enemies were able to succeed in getting him recalled to Spain in order to defend himself at court. The record indicates he was able to do so rather handily, and this appears to be a sign of God’s Providence at work; his return back to Spain actually allowed him to be formally consecrated a bishop. In his absence the government officials in New Spain went on a rampage of abuse. They impoverished the Indians by taxes, sold them into slavery, branded them with hot irons, sent shiploads to the Antilles, sexually attacked Indian girls, and persecuted with incredible fury the followers of Cortes -- their perceived rivals for control of the land’.

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What the Bishop Did in Mexico When now-Bishop de Zumarraga returned to Mexico many months later, he brought several artisan families, ready to educate the Indians, in tow. This was precipitate, as in roughly a five-year period following Mary’s appearances in Mexico City, mass conversions of the native peoples brought six million Indians into the Church. Bishop de Zumarraga was prepared to educate them; he established a school for Indian boys, the College of Tlatelolco and in another display of vision, established formal education for Indian girls -- the first time in history of that land. Further, Bishop de Zumarraga set up a printing press in Mexico and by 1539, the first published in the Western hemisphere was printed there -- Doctrina breve, his own work. He is widely praised today -- including in secular media -- for his work in educating the native peoples and what that meant to Mexican culture.

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Mexico’s Lost Catholic History Interview By: Beverly Stevens Photos By: Michael Durnan and Beverly Stevens

REGINA: The Church in Mexico has an amazing history, but are Mexicans today aware of this? Are they taught about the early missionaries, the Cristeros Martyrs, how the Church formed the first universities in Mexico? Fr. Jonathan Romanoski: In general the Masons, who since Benito Juarez have stolen the government of Mexico, usurping for themselves all church property as well, have made an endless campaign via the media and public education to spread their “leyendas negras� (black legends) against their Hispanic and catholic identity, and thus in the public schools they might only mention in one paragraph that there was some sort of economic conflict between the Church and the state at that time. However in the states of Jalisco, Michoacan and Zacatecas for example, where the Cristero resistance was strongest, the memory lives on thanks to the many saints that have been canonized. Just in this area there are more than 25 canonized saints, devotion to whom keeps their story and testimony alive, an inspiration for many vocations.

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Lost Catholic History

“Being Catholic, a privilege, has simply been taken for granted in Mexico through time.”

Fr. Jonathan Romanoski: It is important for the American reader, disinclined to believe in conspiracy theories, to understand that Freemasonry has been responsible for violently warring against countries that were entirely Catholic so as to destroy Catholic culture, dethroning Christ as King, and exalting man, as an anti-Christ, in his place. This war is simply the modern history of Mexico as it is of so many western countries, as one can confirm not only in good history books, like the treatment of Jean Myer on the Cristiada but also in the Church’s magisterial teachings, c.f. Humanum Genus, Leo XIII. Maria Albers: No, Mexicans today are not aware of how rich the history of Catholicism in Mexico is, and I don’t think they will ever be if that lukewarm attitude continues. Mexico was chosen by God to host the greatest of gifts: Our Lady of Guadalupe. As for the rich Catholic history Mexico has, Mexicans today should be on their knees thanking God for Mexico’s role in the Catholic Faith and fighting for it till the end. Being Catholic, a privilege, has simply been taken for granted in Mexico through time.

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“Unless you are educated in a Catholic institution, history will be taught to you with the least religious/ spiritual input possible.�

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Lost Catholic History

Maria Albers: You must remember, too, that even though most politicians from the perennially-ruling party PRI claim to be Catholic, they are not. Most of them are either atheists or practice Masonry. They have not wanted the Catholic Faith to be strong, on the contrary, they want it alive enough to appease the people, but never too strong to ever have another Cristero War. Unless you are educated in a Catholic institution, history will be taught to you with the least religious/spiritual input possible. No admiration, devotion, appreciation or pride for the Faith will be injected in your soul at all. Ricardo Lara and Nathaly Robles: Beginning in 1823, when the Mexican Empire of Agustin I finished, Masonry took control of the government. Ever since, they have been feeding us the black legend of Spain, in public schools they teach us how bad the Spaniards were, and how the missionaries killed the natives. So, just a few people can learn about the missionaries and the Pontificia University. About the Cristeros war, the history books say nothing, so most of the people didn’t know anything about it, until the movie “For Greater Glory� was on movie theaters. Definitely our Church has a rich legacy but, because of lay education, most of the people are not interested. Derik Castillo Guajardo: Mandatory education in the elementary grades does not focus on the Church, because it has been laicized. It has been written to teach that the separation of Church and state, and the expropriation of Church property was a good thing for the country. This is why many people does not know the history of the Church very well. It takes a personal interest to learn it.

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Matthew Cullinan Hoffman: Mexicans are misled terribly by the country’s system of public education, which distorts or ignores much of the history of the Catholic Church in Mexico. Mention is made of various historical events but they are often cursory and brief and give a false impression about the importance of the Church. This is particularly true of the Cristiada, a war to defend the Catholic Church against the oppression of the country’s president, Plutarco Elias Calles. It’s the second most devastating war in the history of Mexico but is only given a very short treatment in school texts, as if it were of little interest. On the other hand, the stealing of the lands of the Church and the elimination of its privileges and rights by the liberal, Masonic regime of President Benito Juarez in the 19th century and his successors is celebrated as if it were a great liberation from an antiquated, obscurantist regime of religiosity in Mexico.

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Lost Catholic History

“The vast majority would never have a clue about the crucial role of the Church in the country’s history and development.” Matthew Cullinan Hoffman: Mexicans have been brainwashed for well over a century now by this continuous propaganda campaign. Although there is a small sector of the society in which the true history of the country has been preserved, the vast majority would never have a clue about the crucial role of the Church in the country’s history and development. Frank and Irene Denke: While there are Catholic Schools, the (Masonic) Government has provided the majority of students a very secular, low cost education since the time of the “Cristeros”, and those attending government schools are not taught about their Catholic past fully or honestly. They are taught only the government version regarding the faith -- that is, a version clearly opposed to the Catholic Faith. Frank and Irene Denke: The cost of a Catholic education can be out of reach, especially at the University level. To our knowledge, only Opus Dei provides a higher, but equal education to two separate groups: those who have been raised in a rich environment, and those who haven’t, and the cost is proportionate. •

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PORTRAIT OF A MARTYRED PRIEST, Blessed Miguel Pro, hangs beside a Jalisco crucifix.

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Mexico’s Magnificent Martyred Son Interview By: Peter De Trolio III

Photo Credits: Michael Durnan

Priests hidden in the homes of terrified Catholics persecuted by priest hunters, informants and the law. Religious orders expelled and their houses confiscated. Churches closed or converted to use by the new official state-sanctioned religion. England during the Reformation under Henry and the bloodthirsty Elizabeth? Actually, no.

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OPEN DOORS IN A GUADALAJARA CHURCH, once the epicenter of the 1920’s desperate Cristeros rebellion.

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SACRED MUSIC, FROM OUR HOUSE TO YOURS.

TWO ALBUMS FROM THE SCHOLA CHOIR AT THE DOMINICAN HOUSE OF STUDIES IN WASHINGTON, D.C. FEATURING CHANT AND POLYPHONIC TREASURES FROM THE CHURCH'S MUSICAL TRADITION.

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Mexico’s Magnificent Martyred Son The Story Most Mexicans Don’t Know This was early twentieth century Mexico. Like England in the 16th century, Mexico was devotedly Catholic. Like English priests of that time, Mexican priests were forced into hiding by an anti-Catholic government. Like English Catholics, Mexican Catholics were openly persecuted, aided by virulently anti-Catholic laws. But unlike England, Mexico did not lose its Catholicity; its people remained fervent under the storm that came -- though most today have forgotten this heroism. And like the martyrs of the English Reformation, the Mexican struggle for religious freedom took a huge number of martyrs. Most of them were laity, but many of them were priests and religious. Among them is the Jesuit priest, Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro.

playful as a child. His sense of humor was well-known within his family and among the workers who surrounded his childhood. The accounts of his life differ on this, but it seems that his desire to become a priest came out of the decision of his two older sisters to enter the convent. When his sisters announced their decision, Miguel made a retreat at a Jesuit retreat house to calm his mind on the matter; Mexico was there he made the decision to become a Jesuit Priest. During his studies for the priesthood he was forced into exile with his community and so studied in California, Spain and then Belgium.

Not What We Might Imagine a Martyr To Be

After ordination he was sent back to Mexico to be near his family due to a debilitating stomach ailment. Before he sailed for Mexico, however, he paid a visit to the grotto at Lourdes to ask Our Lady to give him the strength he would need in his mission to serve in his homeland.

Like so many martyrs of organized religious persecution, Bl. Miguel did not fit the standard profile of what we might imagine a martyr to be. ‘Cocol’ as he was nicknamed, was the son of a comfortable Mexican family; his father was a mining engineer. He was one of seven children. He is said to have been at the same time pious and

On his arrival, Miguel found Mexico to be more unstable than when he’d left and even more anti-Catholic, with a government and a president hell bent on destroying the Church. Moreover, they were imprisoning and killing all the priests they could find. And so in his native Mexico, Miguel Pro found his destiny.

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“When the initial barrage failed to kill him, a soldier was ordered to kill Miguel Pro at point blank range.”

“He forgave his capturers and his executioners, telling them that they were doing him a favor “Not only do I forgive you, but I am grateful to you.”

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Mexico’s Magnificent Martyred Son Clever, Funny & Fast on His Feet His exploits read like a movie script. One of his companions, Fr. Pulido, remarked that he “had never seen such an exquisite wit, never coarse, always sparkling.” Father Miguel used his natural good humor and knowledge of the customs of the peasants and the gentility classes alike to escape from the priest hunters time and time again. On one occasion when he was being followed by several police officers he saw a young woman he knew and he walked up behind her, took her by the arm and whispered to her to pretend that he was her boyfriend. On another occasion he threw himself out of a taxi and pretended to be a drunk to hide his injuries. On another he confounded the police by making those guarding a house think he was a police inspector; after distributing the Sacrament he exited the house and returned the salute of the police guards who were looking for him! How He Died But Bl. Miguel was destined for martyrdom. Both his brothers were involved in The League for Religious Defense and they were all being closely watched. President Plutarco Calles -- an atheistic, virulently anti-Catholic Mason with strong ties to US politicians -- accused Pro of being the planner of several attacks on government officials, among

other trumped up charges, and had him arrested and thrown into jail. Again, as in Reformation England, for the sole reason of being a priest. Without trial or any proof, Calles ordered that Bl. Miguel and several others be executed. And so the same day as his arrest, November 23, 1927, he was taken from his jail cell and brought outside to the place of execution in front of a huge crowd. He made no resistance except to quietly insist that he was innocent. Calles had the execution meticulously photographed, and the newspapers throughout the country carried them on the front page the following day. Presumably, Calles thought that the sight of the pictures would frighten the Cristero rebels who were fighting against his troops, particularly in the state of Jalisco. He forgave his capturers and his executioners, telling them that they were doing him a favor “Not only do I forgive you, but I am grateful to you.” He asked to pray and while kneeling in prayer he asked God that his blood be shed for Mexico and prayed for the President that sent him to his death. He then stood up and said to the executioners “May God have compassion on you” and “May God bless you” and then placing his arms in the form of a cross said in a loud and clear voice “Viva, Cristo Rey!” as the shots rang out.

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RELIQUARY OF THE REMAINS OF FATHER MIGUEL PRO. Calles is reported to have looked down upon a throng of 40,000 which lined Pro’s funeral procession. Another 20,000 waited at the cemetery where he was buried without a priest present, his father saying the final words. 80

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RELIQUARIUM OF THE MARTYRS preserved in Guadalajara Cathedral, with the stirring title, ‘Viva Cristo Rey’.

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HAUNTING WOODCUT LIKENESS OF MIGUEL PRO in the House of Formation of the Fraternal Society of St Peter in Guadalajara: Father Pro remains a great inspiration to Mexican priests and seminarians. 82

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Mexico’s Magnificent Martyred Son

What the 20th Century Martyrs Teach Us The 20th century was the century of the Martyrs. From the persecutions of Armenians in Turkey, to Spain during the Republic, to the former Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, in Vietnam, in Nicaragua, in El Salvador, in Poland, in Eastern Europe and in Mexico they went on and on, one more violent that the other. In Mexico, where the population was devoutly Catholic, a small group of the powerful persecuted them without mercy. It is interesting to note that the Church in Mexico lived in a situation of “Modus Vivendi” until the early 1990´s when the persecutory laws were finally repealed. Today, anti-Catholic forces use more subtle means to attack the Church and her faithful. Bl. Miguel should be looked to as a model to battle this sort of persecution; his humor and ability to turn a situation on its head to his benefit without anger or rancor should be mirrored today as we defend the Faith in our daily lives. At Pro’s beatification in Mexico on September 25, 1988, Pope John Paul II said: “Neither suffering nor serious illness, neither the exhausting ministerial activity, frequently carried out in difficult and dangerous circumstances, could stifle the radiating and contagious joy which he brought to his life for Christ and which nothing could take away. Indeed, the deepest root of self-sacrificing surrender for the lowly was his passionate love for Jesus Christ and his ardent desire to be conformed to him, even unto death.” Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, Ruega por nosotros!

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Rogue Priest:

Mexico’s George Washington Article By: Beverly Stevens

Photo Credits: Beverly Stevens

OUTSIDE THIS CHURCH AT HACIENDA DE PABELLÓN, on 25 January 1811, Allende and the other insurgent leaders took military command away from Hidalgo, blaming him for their defeats. 84

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H

e’s an unlikely George Washington. The ‘father of Mexico’s’ name is everywhere: on street signs, 1000 peso notes and in fact an entire state. Wreathed with laurels, often dressed like a Roman senator, monumental statues of Hidalgo preside over town plazas and traffic circles throughout Mexico. Miguel Hidalgo is an emotional figure -- celebrated in Mexico’s official history, and bizarrely touted as “a father three times: a religious father, a father of many illegitimate children and the father of his country.” It’s all the more shocking, then, to discover that this man was a rogue priest who led an army of murderous insurgents through central Mexico in 1809, attacking unarmed citizens and committing heinous war crimes. In the end, Hidalgo’s mercifully brief two year war career ended ignominiously before a firing squad in 1811. Who was Hidalgo and why is he celebrated in Mexico today? The answer to this question reveals a great deal about Mexico’s power struggles, the role of the Church and indeed how Mexico understands herself and her history.

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A Matter of Emphasis It’s all a matter of emphasis, as the stranger quickly learns in Mexico. Officially, Miguel Hidalgo is described as a somewhat marginalized figure – a ‘criollo’ with less rights than Spanish-born citizens -- who became a priest and a seminary professor. Persecuted for his liberal ideas, the official story goes, Hidalgo was driven from his academic position to the backwater town of Dolores, Guanajuato where, deeply moved by the plight of the poor, he became radicalized. He tried to help the poor by showing them how to grow olives and grapes, but in Mexico, growing these crops was

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discouraged or prohibited by the authorities due to Spanish import policies. In 1810 he preached from his pulpit the famous “ Cry of Dolores”, calling upon the people to protect the interest of their King Fernando VII (held captive by Napoleon) by revolting against the European-born Spaniards who had overthrown the Spanish Viceroy. But what the official story fails to mention is that Hidalgo’s family was very wealthy, and that he was educated at Mexico’s finest schools. He learned French, which enabled him to read the new, fashionable ideas of the ‘Enlight-


Rogue Priest

“Hidalgo was driven from his academic position to the backwater town of Dolores, Guanajuato where, deeply moved by the plight of the poor, he became radicalized.”

enment’ writers Rousseau and Voltaire. It seems that he adopted many of these ideas, practicing an openly libertine lifestyle of partying and gambling while teaching seminarians Latin grammar and the arts – a decidedly precarious positioning, even for a well-connected, ambitious young man. Too, unlike George Washington’s famed monogamous marriage to the wealthy older widow Martha Custis, the ‘Father of Mexico’ was a lady’s man. Manuela Ramos Pichardo had two of his children. Bibiana Lucero had one. He later lived with María Manuela Herrera, fathering

two daughters with her. Still later, he fathered three more children with Josefa Quintana. All told, Hidalgo acknowledged eight illegitimate children. Despite his flaunted indiscretions, at first Hidalgo’s family connections and natural intelligence served him well. By the time he was 39, he was dean of the seminary. Two years afterwards, however, he was summarily ousted for various offences, including irregular handling of funds. He appeared before the Court of the Inquisition, although for some reason – wealth and family connections, possibly -- the court did not find him guilty.

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Rogue Priest

Hidalgo in the Countryside Ignominiously, Hidalgo was re-assigned to rural parish work. The work of a pastor in the small town of Dolores, however, didn’t appeal to him. He turned over the lion’s share of his priestly duties to lower clerics, and focused on managing his business dealings, including three Mexican haciendas bought with loans he had obtained from the Church on favorable terms. We don’t hear much about this in official Mexican history texts, however, which prefer to depict Hidalgo as a man concerned with the plight of the poor in Dolores. We’re told that he devoted himself almost exclusively to commerce, intellectual pursuits and humanitarian activity and that his study of scientific works, grape cultivation, and the raising of silkworms was an altruistic effort to promote economic activities for the poor and rural people in his area. Hidalgo’s goal, we are to believe, was to make the Indians and mestizos more self-reliant and less dependent on Spanish economic policies. The Mexican texts are careful

to note that Hidalgo was an egalitarian, purportedly opening his home to people of all races. Of course, they fail to mention that both grape cultivation and silkworm raising were the two most coveted cash crops of the day, with super high margins. Hidalgo’s brick-making factories, staffed with local people, were also for-profit activities. All of this activity was supported by Hidalgo’s personal wealth, heavily augmented by the church loans at privileged, low rates. Instead, Mexican texts focus on how Hidalgo’s activities ran afoul of government policies designed to protect agriculture and industry in Spain, and how the Spanish exploitation of mixed ‘racecastas’ fostered resentment in Hidalgo. We also hear about how Spanish mercantile practices caused misery for the native peoples, which Hidalgo fought against. What we don’t hear about is how Hidalgo’s personal loans were called in by the Spanish.

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The Path to War In 1810, the new envoy of Napoleon, who was holding King Fernando III hostage, changed the rules in Mexico. One of his money-saving edicts was to have the Mexican state assume all of the loans then held by the Church. With the government as the new lender, all loans made by the Church to her priests were to be paid, in full, one year hence. Over-mortgaged, his entire business interests dependent on those loans, Hidalgo faced personal ruin. His response was “The Cry of Dolores�, calling upon the people to revolt against

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the European-born Spaniards who had overthrown the old Spanish Viceroy. This event which has since attained almost mythic status, was not, however, an unplanned, spontaneous cry of the heart. The night before, Hidalgo had persuaded his brother Mauricio, as well as friends Ignacio Allende and Mariano Abasolo to go with a number of armed men to force the Dolores sheriff to release his inmates. These 80 felons became the first to support Hidalgo. The next morning, at a Mass attended by about 300, Hidalgo called the peo-


Rogue Priest

“Hidalgo called the people of his parish to leave their homes and join with him in a rebellion against the current government”

ple of his parish to leave their homes and join with him in a rebellion against the current government, in the name of their King. His Grito was carefully worded, avoiding criticisms of Catholicism, monarchy and the social order. He met with an outpouring of support as intellectuals, a few liberal priests from many Indians and mestizos, who joined in such numbers that Hidalgo’s war quickly assumed the character of an undisciplined rebellion seeking revenge, rapine and booty. Allende, who had military training, was pushed aside in favor of Hidalgo, whose

‘priestly’ leadership gave the insurgent movement a supernatural aspect. Many villagers believed that the imprisoned Ferdinand VII himself commanded their loyalty to Hidalgo; most thought the monarch was in New Spain personally directing the rebellion against his own government – and that the king commanded that they exterminate all Spaniards and divide their property among the masses. Modern historians speculate that Hidalgo’s massively inept generalship was kept afloat by the Indians’ belief in this supposed religious legitimacy that even went as far as expecting the return of the Messiah.

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Rogue Priest

What They Did Hidalgo’s army swelled from 800 poorly-armed, un-provisioned Indians and mestizos to more than 100,000 in just a few months. They marched through central Mexico, attacking ranches, towns and villages in the rich and densely populated province of Guanajuato. They soon fell into robbing, looting and ransacking the towns they were capturing. They also began to torture and execute prisoners. Hidalgo led all of this with an image of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe affixed to a lance, but the incessant violence perpetrated by this undisciplined ragtag army caused friction with Allende. In late September 1810 Allende tried to break up the mob’s violence by striking at the insurgents with the flat of his sword. This brought a rebuke from Hidalgo, accusing Allende of “mistreating the people.” A few days later, Hidalgo’s army, armed with sticks, stones, and machetes, attacked unarmed Spanish and Creole populations hiding in a granary and killed everyone inside -- hundreds of men, women and children. Allende’s protests against these unspeakable crimes went unheard, and a couple of weeks later at Acámbaro, Hidalgo was “promoted” to “Generalissimo” and given the title of ‘His Most Serene Highness.’ Hidalgo’s exalted new rank was proclaimed in his blue uniform with a clerical collar and red lapels festooned

with silver and gold, a large golden image of the Virgin of Guadalupe on his chest. His first move was to issue proclamations against the whites, whom he accused of arrogance and despotism, as well as enslaving those in the Americas for almost 300 years. Hidalgo wanted to “send them back to the motherland’. The Church Responds How did the Church respond to one of their own leading a huge, racist mob, intent on murder and pillage? First, the Bishop-elect of Michoacan, Manuel Abad y Queipo, issued an excommunication order 24 September 1810. When Hidalgo forced him to rescind this, the Inquisition itself issued an excommunication edict on 13 October 1810, condemning Hidalgo as a seditionary, apostate, and heretic. Undaunted and so far unopposed, Hidalgo stayed in Valladolid, prepared to march on Mexico City. The canon of the cathedral bravely approached Hidalgo, begging him to promise that the atrocities of San Miguel, Celaya and Guanajuato would not be repeated. The canon was partially effective as the wholesale destruction of the city was avoided. However, Hidalgo furious when he found the cathedral locked, imprisoned all the Spaniards and looted the city and cathedral treasuries before marching off toward Mexico City.

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Mexico Today: State of the Faith in Mexico

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Reality Hits Hidalgo’s troops first engaged royalist forces on the way at the Battle of Monte de las Cruces, forcing them to retreat -but not before the trained royalist soldiers inflicted the first heavy casualties Hidalgo’s army had experienced. There were some desertions, but as he approached Mexico City, Hidalgo still had some 100,000 insurgents, outnumbering royalist forces. However, the Indians and castes of the Valley of Mexico had been forewarned about Hidalgo’s ruthless troops, and he found them as much opposed to him as were the creoles and whites. All were guarded by trained troops. At what is now the Cuajimalpa borough of Mexico City, Hidalgo hesitated, decided to turn away from Mexico City and target Guadalajara instead. At this, his insurgents began to desert in large numbers. A few miles on, Hidalgo’s army had shrunk to 40,000 men. When General Felix Calleja attacked Hidalgo’s forces, he routed them easily on 7 November 1810. Allende left, taking the troops under his command to Guanajuato, instead of Guadalajara. Hidalgo arrived in Guadalajara on 26 November with only 7,000 poorly armed men. Hidalgo the Mayor Hidalgo initially occupied the city with lower-class support based on his promise to end slavery, tributes and taxes on

alcohol and tobacco products. As the self-appointed mayor of Guadalajara, he spent the next month issuing decrees and publishing a revolutionary newspaper. During this time, insurgent violence mounted in Guadalajara. Citizens were seized and executed, with insurgents targeting the property of creoles and Spaniards, regardless of political affiliation. In the meantime, the royalist army had forcied Allende to flee to Guadalajara where he once again objected to the insurgent violence. However, Hidalgo, wanting to stay on good terms with his own army, permitted them as much rapine and pillage as they desired. In response, Bishop Manuel Abad y Queipo excommunicated all of Hidalgo’s supporters on Christmas Eve. (Mexican history texts report disingenuously that the bishop “alleged ‘sacrileges’ and purported ill-treatment of priests.”) Interestingly, the Inquisition pronounced a detailed edict of heresy against Hidalgo, with charges (almost certainly true) that he had preached denial of the punishment for sin, the authenticity of the Bible, the perpetual virginity of Mary, the existence of hell and the Real Presence in the Eucharist – in addition to denouncing the popes and Church government. However, the Inquisition’s edict carried clout -- fearful of losing the support of his army, Hidalgo responded that he had never departed from Church doctrine in the slightest degree.

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The Jig Is Up Royalist forces marched to Guadalajara, and soundly defeated Hidalgo’s forces with a well-trained force numbering less than ten percent of the rabble under Hidalgo’s uncertain command. Once again, his men deserted him, forcing Hidalgo to flee. As a priest, Hidalgo was not immediately subject to the civil authority and so was turned over to the bishop of Durango, who defrocked and excommunicated him on 27 July 1811. He was then found guilty of treason by a military court and executed.

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At his execution, Hidalgo maintained his customary hauteur, presciently telling his executioners “Though I may die, I shall be remembered forever; you all will soon be forgotten.” His body, along with the bodies of Allende, Aldama and José Mariano Jiménez were decapitated, and the heads were put on display on the four corners of the Alhóndiga de Granaditas in Guanajuato. The heads remained there for ten years until the end of the Mexican War of Independence to serve as a warning to other insurgents. Hidalgo’s headless body was first buried in the Church of St Francis in Chihuahua and then transferred to Mexico City in 1824 where they are buried under the


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WHAT WAS LEFT OF THE INSURGENT “Army of the Americas” moved north through desolate mountain areas, hoping to reach the United States for support. Hidalgo gave up, however, and in Saltillo, publicly resigned his military post, proudly rejecting a pardon offered in return for his surrender. A short time later, he and his followers were betrayed and captured.

Monument to Independence El Ángel in Mexico City, along with those of other heroes of the insurgency. The Monument crowns a traffic circle. Hidalgo’s Rehabilitation Such a monumental failure, responsible for wide-ranging death, maiming and desolation, would seem an odd choice for the role of paterfamilias of the Mexican Republic. So, what accounts for this? First, few Mexicans are aware of this version of events. Twentieth century politics have carefully insured that a heroic version of Hildalgo as a man of the people and a martyr for liberty has become institutionalized in both schools

and holiday-making; each year on the night of September 15, the President of Mexico rings the bell of the National Palace in Mexico City and repeats a shout of patriotism -- a ‘Grito Mexicano’ based upon the “Grito de Dolores” -- with the names of these heroes of the Mexican War of Independence and ending with the threefold shout of ¡Viva México! from the balcony of the palace in the Plaza de la Constitución. Every year, bell-ringing presidents wave the Mexican flag, a military band plays the Himno Nacional Mexicano, and half a million spectators from all over Mexico and tourists applaud a man they really know very little about. •

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MASONIC MEXICO Article By: Michael Durnan

Photo Credits: Beverly Stevens and Michael Durnan

Aren’t the Masons just a voluntary service organization, like the Rotary Club? What possible connection could they have to Mexico? In this concise article, REGINA writer Michael Durnan sheds light on the hidden history of the Masons in Mexico -and looks at their influence today.

Why the Church Condemns the Masons By the time Pope Leo XIII issued his encyclical Humanus Genus in 1884, in which he condemned Freemasonry, eight of his predecessors had already done so. Why, then, did he do this? Pope Leo XIII had been stirred into action by Freemasons who claimed the Church’s condemnation of their organisation had been based on false and erroneous information and was excessively severe.

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In his encyclical, the pope dismissed such claims and classed Freemasonry as a grouping of secret societies in the ‘kingdom of Satan and wished to bring back, after eighteen centuries, the manners and customs of the pagans’. He described Masonry as subversive of Church and state, condemned it for its rejection of Christian revelation, and for its religious indifferentism – the idea that all religions are equally valid. In addition, he warned against the effectiveness of the Masonic organisation, its use of figurehead leaders, and its subtle use of ‘double-speak’. He urged all the bishops of The Church, to whom the encyclical was addressed, ‘first of all to tear away the mask of Freemasonry and let it be seen for what it really is.’

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Masonic Mexico

What Masonry Really Is Freemasonry originated in Protestant Scotland and then spread south to England, where it achieved great influence and prominence. Many of the aristocracy, politicians and even Church of England clergy were enthusiastic and committed Masons. Freemasonry was taken by the colonists from Britain to present day USA and Canada. Many of the Founding Fathers of the USA were Masons. (Editor’s Note: In the USA, at least nine of the 59 signers of the Declaration of Independence were Masons, including George Washington. Statues of Washington were prominently placed in European capitals in the 19th century by local Masons, including one in Rome’s aristocratic Borghese Gardens.) Freemasonry spread to continental Europe where it became fashionable amongst the educated and sympathisers of the Enlightenment. In France many of the revolutionaries supporting the overthrow of the Ancien Regime and monarchy -- such as the hideous Robespierre -- were Masons. In France, and other mainland European Catholic kingdoms, Freemasonry developed an anti-clerical and anti-Catholic flavour and outlook. Masons saw themselves as standing for progress and enlightenment and the Catholic Church as an obstacle to these noble aims. For these Masons, the Church and monarchy were reactionary institutions holding back and oppressing mankind. (Editor’s Note: In the 19th and 20th centuries, American Protestants enjoyed great advantages in networking through the Masons into important positions in government, law and business. In addition, the Ku Klux Klan recruited membership through local Masonic Lodges in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and figured prominently in the fight against Catholic schools in many US states.)

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Masonic Mexico

The Masons in Mexico Mexico, and other parts of present day Latin America, once belonged to the kingdom of Spain and was a vice-royalty. Mexico was governed by a viceroy who was appointed by the King of Spain to rule in his name and under his authority. The Catholic Church was able to conduct its mission and pastoral care of the subjects of New Spain, as Mexico was known, with the support, encouragement and protection of the Spanish Crown. As New Spain developed, some of the native-born Mexicans of Spanish ancestry, known as criollos, wished to declare their independence from Spain. By the late 18th C., after the Jesuits – many of whom were criollos - were expelled from the Spanish Empire in 1767, discontent amongst many criollos with Spanish rule really began to stir. It was about this time that Freemasonry is thought to have arrived in Mexico. Some say that it arrived with immigrants from France but their Masonic cult was condemned by the local Inquisition and ordered to desist. (The first Lodge known to exist in México met at the shop of French watchmaker Juan Esteban Laroche, until the Inquisition arrested them while celebrating the Summer Solstice in 1791.It is also thought that Freemasonry arrived from Spain via France where The Grand Orient was very active. Half a century later, John Roberts Pointsett arrived in Mexico as US Ambassador. Pointsett’s 1822 appointment was a very significant and influential development in the story of Freemasonry in Mexico. While Pointsett is more remembered for his introduction of the ‘Pointsettia’ Christmas flower to the USA on his return from Mexico, it was his powerful Masonic connections and his eventful years as ambassador there which are more important -- and far less known. 102 Regina Magazine | Amazing Parishes


With Pointsett’s arrival in Mexico, the story of Freemasonry became more complex, controversial and factional. Poinsett was a follower of the York Rite of Freemasonry; most others in Mexico were adherents of the Scottish Rite. These two groups often diverged along political fault lines. The Scottish Rite Masons often supported the Church and its position and privileges and tend to be more conservative, monarchical and Eurocentric, whereas the York Rite Masons tended to support a more liberal political position, were republican in sentiment and were opposed to the Church and its influence.

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One of Mexico’s most influential and important political figures was President Benito Juarez (1806-1872) who was also a committed Mason and atheist. Freemasonry influenced Juarez’s political outlook and he saw himself as a liberal and reformist intent on sweeping away the remnants of Mexico’s colonial past. Benito Juarez was of indigenous descent and his parents were poor peasants; he was educated by the Jesuits. On becoming President he ordered the confiscation of Church lands, the separation of Church and State and the near disenfranchisement of Catholic clergy and religious through the Juarez Law or Ley Juarez. His

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membership in the Masons undoubtedly influenced his antipathy towards organised religion, especially the Catholic Church. Plutarco Elias Calles was another virulently anti-Catholic Mason who was elected president in 1924. His term was marked by policies and laws designed to curtail the influence of the Church throughout Mexico. Calles moved to enforce the anti-clerical articles of the 1917 Constitution which would result in a violent backlash and the outbreak of what became known as The Cristeros War. His anti-Catholic actions included outlawing religious orders, and de-


Masonic Mexico

STRIKING AIRPORT WORKERS’ BANNER DEPICTING EMILIANO ZAPATA, revolutionary 19th century military leader claimed by many Latin American Masons today as a secret Mason.

priving the Church of property rights. Shrewdly, he also deprived Catholic priests and nuns of their civil liberties, including their right to trial by jury when they were accused of breaking these unjust anti-clerical laws and the right to vote. Due to Calles’s strict and sometimes violent enforcement of anti-Catholic laws, people in strongly Catholic areas, especially the states of Jalisco, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Colima and Michoacán, began to oppose him. On 1 January 1927, a war cry went up from faithful Catholics, “¡Viva Cristo Rey!” (Editor’s Note: More on Calles and the Cristeros HERE.)

Masonry in Mexico Today From Calles’ reign onwards Freemasons have been the predominant force within Mexico’s government; it is said that to rise to middle and upper ranking government positions one has to be a Mason. Only for the very top positions where wealth matters more is membership in Freemasonry is deemed unnecessary. Freemasonry’s influence has waned because of internal strife and factionalism, but also because many of its original aims are now seen as outdated in modern Mexico. The Catholic Church has much more liberty to express its opinions in the public square and attacks on it are seen as politically foolish.

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MONUMENT TO ANTI-CATHOLICISM: On prime real estate, directly across from Guadalajara’s ancient cathedral, this giant monument was erected to ‘The Enlightened Sons of Jalisco’ -- a reference to all those who have fought against the Church. 106 Regina Magazine | Amazing Parishes


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MEXICAN PRESIDENT CALLES WAS AN ATHEIST AND A MASON, and a favorite of American presidents such as William Howard Taft (left) and Calvin Coolidge (right). In the 1940’s a new secret society, El Yunque (The Anvil) emerged, a Catholic organization created as a way of combating Masonry and socialist influences. They managed to infiltrate various sectors of Mexican society, particularly COPARMEX (the national chamber of commerce) and for a while seemed to control the National Action Party which supported two successful candidates to the presidency in the 1990’s. Interestingly, the anti-Catholic stance of Mexican governments has mellowed somewhat since the late 1980’s and especially since the establishment of full diplomatic relations with The Holy See.

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Masonic Mexico

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“The Catholic Church has much more liberty to express its opinions in the public square and attacks on it are seen as politically foolish.�

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(Editor’s Note: Our interviews with modern Mexicans revealed that, while admitting that Masons were influential in the country’s past, most dismiss questions about current Masonic influence as ‘conspiracy theories’. Globally, Freemasonry admits that it has lost 50% of its membership in the last 40 years. However, due to its continued policy of secrecy, reliable information on the organization is not available at the local level. Today’s Masons in Mexico and elsewhere, of course, are at pains to disassociate themselves from much of their history, at least publically: “This paper depicts a form of Freemasonry in Mexico early in the 19th century, not regular Freemasonry, which is very different from Freemasonry today. It contained practices which would not be tolerated now, nor indeed by any regular Grand Lodge even then, being an aberration from normal standards. This is especially so of the political and sectarian involvement mentioned in the paper, which is totally repugnant to regular Freemasonry.”) 112 Regina Magazine | Amazing Parishes


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Aztec Demons “What happened? What made the Spaniards act as they did? Who were the Aztecs, really?”

Article By: Harry Stevens

Photo Credit: Beverly Stevens

Editor’s Note: It has often been noted that ‘the victors write history’ and the story of the Aztecs is no exception to this rule. The ‘victors’ in this case, however, are not the 16th century Spaniards. These have been vanquished by the views of the prevailing elite in Mexico, which after a two-century struggle is supreme in their vast wealth and almost total control of the country’s resources, and indeed, its understanding of its own history. As a result, today’s Mexicans will tell you that because the Aztecs were pre-literate, the only documents surviving from the Conquest were written by the Spanish -- who of course had every reason to exaggerate to justify their actions. For the most recent scholarship on the question of Cortes and the Spanish invasion, click HERE.

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TWO WORLDS COLLIDED ON THAT FATEFUL DAY IN 1521 when the Spaniard Cortes (shown here in Orozco’s monumental mural) encountered Montezuma and his fabled Aztecs.

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ANCIENT MEXICO CITY: At first, the Spanish were dazzled by the technical and engineering prowess of the builders of an advanced city on the shallow lake of Tenochtitlan. Montezuma welcomed them, believing they were the fulfillment of a prophecy that a white hero would return to his people. After this promising beginning, however, the Spanish rapidly turned on their obliging hosts and utterly destroyed their elegant city. What happened? What made the Spaniards act as they did? Who were the Aztecs, really?.

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Aztec Demons

CAPTURED INDIANS BUILDING AZTEC PYRAMIDS: They called themselves ‘the Mexica’, and they were allied with the the Acolhuas of Texcoco and the Tepanecs of Tlacopan in a Triple Alliance of city-states . (The term ‘Aztec’ was first used in 1810 by Alexander von Humboldt as a collective term describing all people linked to the Triple Alliance.)

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RELIGION DOMINATED THE LIVES OF EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD -- a religion polytheistic in theology, with devotions to gods of nature, the earth, moon, stars, wind, fire, creation, and gods of drinking and excess, of fertility, of death and the underworld, and of trade.

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Aztec Demons

THEIR PRINCIPAL DEITY WAS TEZCATLIPOCA, the ‘Smoking Mirror’, ‘Lord of the Dark’, god of phantoms and monsters, demiurge of creation. The mightiest god was Quetzelcoatl, the feathered or stone serpent. Other gods were Mixcoatl (‘cloud serpent’) the god of war, hunting, and sacrifice; Mictlantecuhtli, the lord of the dead; and Tlaloc, the god of rain and fertility.

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DEATH & THE AZTECS: The Aztec view of death is key to understanding these people, who believed that death was instrumental in the continuation of creation, and that humans had the responsibility to sacrifice themselves or others in order 126 Regina Magazine | Amazing Parishes

to allow life to endure. For them, th rose and set only because of their s es to the sun god, Huitzilopochtli (‘ mingbird wizard’, called ‘Lover of H and ‘Drinker of Blood’). The Aztecs essence, wanted to attract natural


he sun sacrific‘humHearts’ s, in

forces beneficial to humans, and repel those forces that were not beneficial. It was ultimately only through death would the Aztec be able finally to repay their debt to their gods, returning flesh and blood to the earth -- a ‘circle of life’.

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R

Mexico Today: State of the Faith in Mexico

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Aztec Demons

THEIR RELIGION WAS SACRIFICIAL IN PRACTICE. There were large festivals and monthly rituals by the state priests in temples built to some of their gods (or demons). Some of these gods needed to be satiated by human sacrifice, animal sacrifice, and/or self-sacrifice. The Aztec’s self-sacrifice involved daily blood-letting, offering token gifts -- one’s own blood -- to refresh and give thanks to the earth every day.

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Aztec Demons

THE BEST KNOWN AZTEC PYRAMID WAS THE TEMPLO MAYOR IN TENOCHTITLAN. This step pyramid rose 197 feet above the city and was built specifically to pay tribute to the Aztec gods Huitzilopochtli (god of war and the sun) and Tlaloc (god of rain and fertility). Construction of the first temple began sometime after 1325, and it was rebuilt six times. It was destroyed by the Spanish in 1521 as part of their campaign to subjugate the Aztecs; the Cathedral of Mexico City today stands in its place. (The archeological site lies just to the northeast of the Zocalo, or main plaza of Mexico City, in the block between Seminario and Justo Sierra streets.)

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HUMAN SACRIFICES: Twentieth century historian and founder of Christendom College Warren Carroll tells us that …”the law of the empire required a thousand sacrifices to the Aztec tribal god Huitzilopochtli in every town with a temple, every year; and there were 371 subject towns in the Aztec empire, though not all of them had full-scale temples.”

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Aztec Demons One such sacrificial celebration occurred over four days and four nights in 1487, as described by R.C. Padden, to dedicate the pyramid temple of Huitzilopochtli in the city of Tenochitilan by the ruler Tlacaellel. According to Padden, who was drawing from native American sources describing an event which occurred two generations before the Spanish arrived, 80,000 men were sacrificed -- one every 15 seconds. Others say the numbers were much lower, in the 20,000 range. Whatever the number, it is important to note that the Indians reported that Tlacaellel, at age 89, witnessed this event for the whole four days. This is a difficult topic in modern Mexico. Although Mexicans know that the Aztecs were a warrior culture, most in fact have never heard these statistics, as the historical perspective on this time is usually presented from the point of view of the Indian victims of the Spaniards. Although the official line in Mexican state schools and indeed the Anthropology Museum of Mexico City is to underplay the frequency and ferocity of human sacrifice in the Aztec culture, multiple contemporary sources describe the horror -- the beating hearts cut out, the bodies thrown down the pyramid steps and fed to zoo animals. The limits of modern conjecture Archaeologists define this era as the late Post Classic (1300-1521 AD), characterized by a predominance of militarism and a structural basis of military hierarchies made up of fierce young men. This does not address obvious questions of logistics. How could so many could be sacrificed, unless they went willingly, as has been proposed? The sacrificial victims were usually prisoners, captured during tribal conflicts. Others have proposed that their docility reflected the Aztecs’ understanding of the life cycle; sacrifice and death were needed for the continued existence of the world. Blood fed the gods and kept the sun from falling. The sacrifices maintained cosmic order and a struggle against the darkness. Nevertheless, the scene is difficult for a 21st century mind to grasp -- standing in a line, waiting one’s turn, and willingly ascending the steps of the pyramid to one’s horrific fate. • R. C. Padden, The Hummingbird and the Hawk.

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Aztec Demons

Conquering the Aztec Demons From a distance of nearly five centuries, the extent of the demonic dominance of this bloodthirsty culture of death seems overwhelming; one is compelled to ask -- who but Our Lady could conquer such demons? Although Cortes and his Spaniards -- along with Indian tribes whom the Aztecs had preyed upon -- defeated Montezuma and destroyed the Tenochitilan temple, it was the gentle peasant Juan Diego -- born in 1474, thirteen years before the dedication of the Tenochitilan temple -- who would play the most pivotal role in the transformation

of Mexico to a Christian country. He was the earthly messenger Our Mother used to crush the serpent’s head. After Cortes, Spanish missionaries fanned out across the country, but met with little success; the fact is that few conversions occurred among the Mexica or their allies. In fact by 1532 -- one year after Our Lady appear to Juan Diego -only about 200,000 Indians had converted, less than ten percent of the highly urbanized population. Just sixteen years later, however, in 1548, it was reported to the Spanish Crown that nine million Indians were baptized.

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Aztec Demons

“I want you to know for certain, my dear son, that I am the perfect and always Virgin MARY, Mother of the True God from Whom all life comes, the Lord of all things, Creator of Heaven and Earth. I greatly desire that a church be built in my honor, in which I will show my love, compassion, and protection. I am your Mother full of mercy and love for you and all those who love Me, trust in Me, and have recourse to Me. I will hear their complaints and I will comfort their affliction and their sufferings. So that I might show all My love, go now to the bishop in Mexico City and tell him that I am sending you to make known to him the great desire I have to see a church dedicated to me built here.� - Our Lady to Juan Diego, December 1531

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Beyond Belief:

Nuestra SeĂąora de la Santa Mu

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uerte Article By: Harry Stevens Photo Credit: Beverly Stevens & Maurice Marcellin (Wikipedia)

The author recommends readers pray before reading this article: St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte or, colloquially, ‘Santa Muerte’ (Spanish for ‘Holy Death’ or ‘Sacred Death’), is a female folk ‘saint’ primarily venerated in Mexico and the Southwestern United States.

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SANTA MUERTE'S NICKNAMES: the White Girl (la Niña Blanca) , Skinny Lady (la flaquita), the Bony Lady (la Huesuda), the White Sister (la Hermana Blanca), the Pretty Girl (la Niña Bonita), the Powerful Lady (la Dama Poderosa), the Godmother (la Madrina), Señora de las Sombras ("Lady of the Shadows"), Señora Blanca ("White Lady"), Señora Negra ("Black Lady"), Niña Santa ("Holy Girl"), Santa Sebastiana (St. Sebastienne) or Doña Bella Sebastiana ("Our Beautiful Lady Sebastienne") and La Flaca ("The Skinny Woman").

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Beyond Belief: La Santa Muerte

“Magic and witchcraft are often intertwined with Santa Muerte.”

Magic, incantations & witchcraft Santa Muerte’s devotees burn votive candles whose colors denote the type of request: red for love, black to protect drug dealers (also used in black magic and witchcraft), brown for wisdom, white for gratitude, green for crime and justice, gold for monetary affairs, and purple for healing. Magic and witchcraft are often intertwined with Santa Muerte. Followers often address Santa Muerte with and elaborate ceremonies. It seems there is a mixture of offerings, prayers, incantations, use of oils, plants, and candles following a ritual. A teacher or shaman usually leads the way to the unitiated. Additionally, Santa Muerte jewelry is worn for protection, clearly an imitation of the Catholic practice of wearing a Miraculous or St Benedict Medal. The Catholic Church vs Santa Muerte The cult of Santa Muerte has been condemned by the Vatican and the Mexican Catholic Church; on May 8, 2013 Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture made what amounts to the Catholic Church’s first public statement regarding the cult: “It’s not religion just because it’s dressed up like religion; it’s a blasphemy against religion.” Nevertheless, the cult is firmly entrenched within a sub-culture of Mexico, as well as in Los Angeles and other border towns. The Church’s condemnation seems to have little effect on the cult’s devotees, who apparently either don’t know or don’t care about Rome’s edict.

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SANTA MUERTE’S BIG BUSINESS: In a culture increasingly devoted to materialism, it is unsurprising that Santa Muerte is big business for many small shops; some report half their profits are from selling Santa Muerte products.

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Beyond Belief: La Santa Muerte

IN A MEXICO FILLED WITH FACTORIES OF EVERY DESCRIPTION, decals, statues, votive candles, oils, incense, amulets, bracelets, medallions, prayer cards, potions, powders, and books are produced for an avid cult public

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Today, it seems that many of Santa Muerte’s devotees are disillusioned with the Catholic Church. The cult seems to have become entrenched into Mexico’s pop culture around 2001, beginning with the working classes, primarily young females.

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Beyond Belief: La Santa Muerte

Why Santa Muerte? There are some who believe that this devotion goes back to the Aztec cultural figure, Mictecacihuati, the lady of death. Now, it has even spilled over into the military and the police, as shamans ‘bless’ their weapons and ammunition. And there are devotees among all classes of Mexicans, research has shown. Santa Muerte and the United States The cult of Santa Muerte has now moved into the United States, and not just border towns. Professor Andrew Chestnut reports tens of thousands of followers in the U.S. cities such as Chicago, Richmond, Washington D.C., and New York. But compared to the Catholic Church in Mexico, the official reaction in the U.S. is mostly either non-existent or muted. The U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has not issued an official position on this relatively new phenomenon in the country.

Final thoughts To have millions of people devoted to such a non-entity, there is something amiss. It is nothing less than diabolical, and very reminiscent of the pre-Christian death cult which held the ancient Aztecs in its grip. Our Lady of Guadalupe stamped out one serpent in 1531. Catholics -- and not just Mexicans -- must pray to our Lady of Guadalupe for her intercession against this new evil: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mystical Rose, make intercession for holy Church, protect the sovereign Pontiff, help all those who invoke you in their necessities, and since you are the ever Virgin Mary and Mother of the true God, obtain for us from your most holy Son the grace of keeping our faith, of sweet hope in the midst of the bitterness of life of burning charity, and the precious gift of final perseverance. Amen

(1) R. Andrew Chesnut discusses his book "Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint." (2) https://youtu.be/Jb5ACEhrsJw (3) http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130512-vatican-santa-muertemexico-cult-catholic-church-cultures-world/ (4) http://www.patheos.com/blogs/panmankey/2015/10/santa-muerte-holy-death/

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The State of the Faith in Mexico Photo Credits: Michael Durnan and Beverly Stevens

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State of the Faith in Mexico

When Pope Francis recently visited Mexico, the Church there rented gigantic stadiums and staged elaborate, choreographed productions. But is this the Mexican reality? Mexico’s a big place, so it’s hard to generalize about 120 million people. REGINA’s commentators -- all of whom are Mexican or who live in Mexico today -- have observed the people and their Faith at close hand for a number of years. As academics, priests, journalists, retired military and housewives, their perspectives vary. There is a ‘red thread’ running throughout -- as Spanish America’s once most-Catholic country struggles to pass on the Faith to the next generation.

Ricardo Lara and Nathaly Robles: When we were kids, it was very hard to get a place in our church pews. Today there are still large numbers of persons at Mass but the churches are not so crowded as they used to be. The young people (including young marriages) are not going to the Mass, they are “social Catholics” (weddings, baptisms, funerals) Derik Castillo Guajardo: The average Mexican is not very interested in attending the Holy Mass. Many people who used to attend Mass while living with their parents, stopped attending regularly, and only go to church for special occasions like baptisms, when all relatives will be present. I believe there is a generational difference, in that more elderly people fill the pews, but this does not match the demographics.

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Maria Albers: The average (Catholic) Mexican attends Mass once a week, typically on Sundays, although some attend Saturday vigil Mass as well, depending on their planned weekend activities. Older generations still observe the tradition of attending daily Mass, especially early in the morning. It is rare to see young people attend daily Mass nowadays. Matthew Cullinan Hoffman: My impression is that Mass attendance varies from state to state and region to region. Here in the state of Jalisco and in neighboring states such as Guanajuato, Zacatecas, Michoacรกn, Queretaro and others mass attendance is higher than in other states or Mexico City. Mexicans are generally of the impression that mass attendance throughout the country has declined dramatically in the last 50 years just as it did in other parts of the world following the liturgical changes of the mid-late 60s.

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State of the Faith in Mexico

“There can be little doubt that the drop in Mass attendance is a result of the liturgical changes that rocked the Church in the late 60s and early 70s”

The Mexican magazine Linea Recta states that the Mass attendance rate in most of Mexico is 50% of the faithful each Sunday. However, this rate varies quite a bit. On the low end would be the Federal District (Mexico City) which is very socialist and liberal, and has only a 9% mass attendance rate. There can be little doubt that the drop in Mass attendance is a result of the liturgical changes that rocked the Church in the late 60s and early 70s and resulted in a similar collapse in mass attendance throughout the world. A similar effect has been seen in the serious shortage of seminarians suffered in most parts of the country. Frank and Irene Denke: A certain distance exists between generations. For Mexicans of the current generation the Catholic Faith seems more “complicated”.  The Church requires the attendance of parents at classes before baptism, marriage, etc., and many don’t feel inclined to attend. We have been told younger Mexicans do not attend Mass because, they aren’t accustomed to the signs of respect (reverence) they see others do regarding the Mass. Around us, the Franciscan Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan is full of those, young and old, who attend the “New Mass” – some, it seems, still out of custom, rather than from a knowledge or love of their faith, but they still attend.

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Fr. Jonathan Romanoski: In general, there is a Catholic culture which still permeates Mexico, and I can only really speak of the state of Jalisco in which I live, which is known to have conserved more faith than many other places, as it was a place of great opposition to the Masonic persecution in the Cristero resistance, and which still ordains on average 40 men to the priesthood every year in the archdiocese of Guadalajara. For example, it is common place to see an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in a taxi or bus for public transportation, as well as it is common to see a public procession.

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State of the Faith in Mexico

“Even in a place of such popular religiosity the statistic of weekly Mass attendance is around only 10%, meaning that for many it is more based on culture than convictionâ€? Fr. Jonathan Romanoski: As a priest it means that every door is open to evangelize, as people naturally recognize and respect the priest and are generally eager to receive a blessing from him, and will naturally accept his commentaries with a sense of respect toward his authority. However, even in a place of such popular religiosity the statistic of weekly Mass attendance is around only 10%, meaning that for many it is more based on culture than conviction, or a desire to feel or seek some sort of blessing from God rather than follow his commandments. Although there are still many youth who practice the faith, and many vocations as I mentioned, there is definitely a more secular spirit spreading through the youth. One priest told me that on a national level the youth receiving catechetical formation is only around 10%. So imagine that in another generation 90% of young adults will generally be pagan in their way of thinking. •

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The ‘New Age’ in Today’s Mexico Ricardo Lara and Nathaly Robles: ‘New Age’ ideas are common among “modern people” we’d say. It is considered “fancy” and “modern” to go to yoga (versus “old fashioned” and “provincial” to go to the Church). Horoscope is another new age trend with a big hold in Mexico, almost every printed media has a horoscope section and is followed by a lot of people of every single social class. Derik Castillo Guajardo: Sadly, New Age ideas are creeping inside the Church. People who adopt these ideas usually have little training in the Catechism, and therefore gladly adopt these ideas. For example, taking care of their bodies through alternative medicine (quartzes, magnets), or weird theories about angels bringing money and good luck.

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Frank and Irene Denke: Here, again the lack of knowing their faith plays a part. For the promise of having a better health, many don’t realize the “conflict” of some ideas presented by Yoga (for example) with the Catholic Faith. We have noticed more and more “gyms” where people “work out” (and some present “yoga”) as a means of physical exercise.  It seems to us that exercise is a very attractive fad but with it comes certain ideas that are not Catholic. Matthew Cullinan Hoffman: These ideas seem to have an influence in the cities, particularly the largest ones. It would be surprising to find them in smaller towns, however. Maria Albers: Yes, more and more people in Mexico are becoming more involved in New Age practices such as yoga, Reiki, meditation, etc. Boabom is another practice that has started to attract many. Some do it just because it’s the popular trend at the moment, and others truly feel it’s a new path worth following. There are even specific destinations where retreats are offered, something that wasn’t available many years ago. It’s safe to say that it would be middle to upper class people who would be adopting these practices as a result to their exposure to general knowledge through social media. People below the poverty line wouldn’t even be aware of the existence of practices such as Yoga and Reiki. Now, there are practices such as Astrology which have been popular in Mexico for the longest time, and it’ll probably remain that way. Fr. Jonathan Romanoski: Yes, there are more and more places for yoga around my city at least, and with that trend more New Age ideas. In my experience the Mexican soul is naturally religious tending to believe in something praeter- or super natural, and if the Church doesn´t fill that void inundating the culture with her sacraments and sacramentals, then people naturally gravitate toward superstitions to feel some sort of religious contact, blessing, peace or good luck. •

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Apostasy in Mexico Interview By: REGINA Magazine

Photo Credits: Beverly Stevens

REGINA: Some Mexican immigrants to the United States are abandoning the Church in favor of evangelical sects; is this happening in Mexico too? Maria Albers: That’s correct, and it has been happening in Mexico for a long time, except that (Catholic) Mexicans converting to Evangelical sects has accelerated in recent times with social media reaching the masses like never before. Now, even though Mexicans are known to be ‘really Catholic’ the truth is that a great part are ‘lukewarm’ Catholics. If you ask me, some times Mexicans feel as if having Our Lady of Guadalupe ‘with us’ is enough to be protected and saved no matter how much God is being let down. Personally, I wish the passion that is felt towards soccer and soap operas was shown towards God and building a better Mexico. I grew up seeing my parents and relatives praying the Rosary at least once a week, whether as a family or on their own. Everyone was expected to observe religious holidays, no questions asked. That has faded away in new generations...the perfect opportunity for passionate Evangelicals to convert lukewarm Catholics. Jaime Septien, a well-known Catholic journalist, describes it very well in this clip here. 160 Regina Magazine | Amazing Parishes


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Matthew Cullinan Hoffman: Sadly, this is a trend throughout Latin America. However, it varies from country to country. In Brazil the number of Evangelicals has risen to about 30%, and many Catholics do not practice the faith. Similarly high rates of conversion to Evangelicalism are found in Central American countries such as Guatemala and Honduras. Mexico has seen its roughly 98% Catholic population fall to 89%, although most of the conversions are not to Evangelicalism but rather to predatory sects like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, who are very active in the country now that the government has relaxed its enforcement of laws prohibiting proselytism by foreign sects – the “missionaries” are virtually all from the U.S. The rest of the 11% that doesn’t self-identify as Catholic is atheistic, agnostic, or otherwise non-religious.

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Apostasy in Mexico

“Mexico has seen its roughly 98% Catholic population fall to 89%, although most of the conversions are not to Evangelicalism but rather to predatory sects like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons.”

The exodus from the Church that has occurred in the last 50 years seems tied to the predominance of liberation theology among the clergy, which has displaced the traditional doctrines that attracted the faithful in years past. This is especially true in Brazil. Ricardo Lara and Nathaly Robles: Sadly yes, all those sects take advantage of the material needs of people. Here in Mexico, many sects offer money to the people if they invite more people. This sects work mainly in the areas with great poverty and ignorance. Frank and Irene Denke: The same is happening here. The Church has admitted its failure to teach the faith in past years, and so many Mexicans who now live in the States really have never known their faith well and are “fair game” for those who are trained to present strongly other beliefs against what the Church teaches.  Unable to answer them, these Mexicans have no way to keep their faith.  They have moved away from a Mexican atmosphere of Catholic “custom”, to where one’s faith has many “options”, and without the depth of understanding and love of the Catholic Faith they need to keep it.

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Apostasy in Mexico

“I think it is a question of formation and catechesis to start so that they recognize the differences and know the reasons for their faith.”

Fr. Jonathan Romanoski: Again it would depend on the state, as Mexico varies much in its culture and identity throughout the very different 32 states that it has, some of them being more vulnerable or attacked by the protestant sects, but in general one could say that they are growing in all places. We have a saying here, “católico ignorante, seguro protestante” (an ignorant Catholic will surely become a protestant). As we found out in a continental survey some years ago, even in our city of Guadalajara there were so many Catholics who replied that they were fine with God but that they did not need the Church, a mentality which multiplies when there are so many living in fornication or adultery of “second” marriages who would like to ease their conscience pretending that they could be in friendship with Christ without observing his law, which Protestantism makes completely relative. So again I think it is a question of formation and catechesis to start so that they recognize the differences and know the reasons for their faith, and avoid falling into habits of sin which make them want to rid themselves of the Church’s infallible voice which communicates Christ’s teachings. •

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Buying Happiness in Mexico Interview By: REGINA Magazine

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Creative Commons

REGINA: ​As young Mexicans abandon the pueblos and move to the cities and across the US border in search of work, ​are they becoming more consumeristic? Matthew Cullinan Hoffman: Based on my conversations with Mexicans and my personal impressions of the country, the answer is that yes, Mexicans are becoming more materialistic and consumeristic as a result of the constant influence of corporate advertising and the international economy in general.

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Buying Happiness in Mexico

“When they grow and move from the pueblo, and have some money, they try to prove to themselves that they are important.”

Frank and Irene Denke: We would assume so, as the ads in Mexico we hear daily are very “consumerist” already, and those seeking a “better life” (more money to buy more things) bring to the States with them what they have already heard advertised in Mexico every day. Ricardo Lara and Nathaly Robles: In Mexican little towns the poverty is big, many kids grow up with a feeling of they are not important because they have no possessions, so when they grow and move from the pueblo, and have some money, they try to prove to themselves that they are important. They have the need to show off.

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Buying Happiness in Mexicov

Maria Albers: Absolutely, but there are two different aspects to consider. Consumerism has changed the Mexico I once knew. I have lived in the US since 1988, and the last time I was there a couple of years ago, I was shocked to see a very different culture, particularly among younger generations. A lot of people in Mexico are so preoccupied with having the latest of everything, and even the language is being morphed into a new style of ‘Spanglish’ with a lot of English expressions being used in daily speech to show that they are ‘better’ because they speak English. This makes many Mexicans feel better about themselves and even superior to other Mexicans. Ridiculous, I know, but true. As for those who cross the border to work in the US, their consumeristic behavior stems from a different reason, which is necessity and the excitement of being able to finally obtain what they barely or never had back in Mexico. They are not only enjoying many commodities for the first time, but also they are able to give meat and milk to their kids daily, which might not be possible in Mexico. Granted that some may go overboard, but there’s still something that I admire about them: they share what they earn and acquire, they help each other here and their loved ones in Mexico, they don’t act superior to each other and they never forget who they are and where they came from.

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Fr Jonathan Romanoski: Regarding the younger generations we see the prevalence more and more of secularism and relativism, in which they are inculcated more and more via globalism, namely perceiving via the internet and pop culture that it is the norm already established in other cultures like the United States, and that therefore Catholicism is just a cultural tradition of Mexico, and not the truth that God has revealed but rather one cultural opinion among many. At the same time they see that there are less and less morals, more and more insecurity and crime, and this inclines them to pray to God. 172 Regina Magazine | Amazing Parishes


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Abortion on Demand US-based NGO- led efforts to force legalized abortion on the Mexican population have been enthusiastically supported by the anti-Catholic government there -- but what has been the effect on the people? 176 Regina Magazine | Amazing Parishes


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Derik Castillo Guajardo: The law on abortion has been publicized in mass media, and clinics like Marie Stopes have been opening in the Capital. I suppose that some women are attracted by abortion being legal, but it is not free, and probably is not within the reach of the lowest economical strata. Also it has produced a reaction among Catholics who organize to pray rosaries outside these places. Maria Albers: Sadly, although most Mexicans are against abortion, it is the younger people, ages ranging from 18 to 25, who are in favor, which means that the younger generations feel comfortable with the idea of murdering the unborn. Of course that is not to say that every young person is for abortion; this is just a very broad overview. Those young people in favor have an average educational level (high school, bachelors’ degree or above), a median income and measure ‘success’ according to material or social achievements the way today’s society has taught 178 Regina Magazine | Amazing Parishes

them. Here is something that you may have never heard: Mexicans look up to celebrities and literally do as they say. When the Government wants anything done, all it has to do is go through said celebrities to manipulate the masses. All it takes is one amoral celebrity to say that abortion is okay for millions to be convinced of that literally overnight. Matthew Cullinan Hoffman: Abortion-on-demand is permitted in only one jurisdiction in Mexico, and that is the Federal District (Mexico City), where abortions for any reasons can be carried out during the first trimester. It is illegal in most cases in Mexico’s 31 states, which typically have exceptions only for rape, involuntary artificial insemination, fetal deformity, and the life of the mother. A very high percentage of Mexicans outside of Mexico City and particularly outside of the states immediately surrounding Mexico City are not aware of the existence of the Federal District’s very liberal abortion law.


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Matthew Cullinan Hoffman: According to my conversations with the leadership of Mexico’s National Pro-Life Committee, which has been fighting abortion for over 30 years and has saved over one million lives from abortion, the legalization of abortion in Mexico City and the government’s constant propaganda campaign legitimating abortion as a woman’s “right” have had profound impacts on women’s sense of maternal piety. They found in the past that most women who were shown ultrasounds of their babies would keep them, but today an increasingly higher percentage are no longer moved by this.

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Abortions on Demand Frank and Irene Denke: Abortion is “pushed” by the government and well publicized.  We have heard women who have had abortions talk.  After realizing the tragedy that was inflicted upon their child and themselves by a Planned Parenthood abortion (and it was not safe!), are now very “pro-life life, and are giving talks to groups of people.  Generally, Mexicans are pro-life, but the Government is forcing anti-life laws upon them. Thousands are sending letters to the government to protest its pro-abortion stance (and position favoring gay marriage).  At the same time, for years some very vociferous anti-life organizations have come here from the States, such as “Planned Parenthood”, and boast on their Mexican website that: “In April 2007, Mexico City legalized abortion during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. This was a huge victory not only for Mexican women, but for women throughout Latin America. After years of research and advocacy, public health experts, scholars, politicians, and advocates secured the right to safe abortion in one of the largest cities in the world. My organization, Mexfam (“Planned Parenthood” in Mexico ) played a significant role in securing this change.”  182 Regina Magazine | Amazing Parishes


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Ricardo Lara and Nathaly Robles: We live in a world of egoism, first comes the interest of each person. There are a lot of single people who support abortion just ‘because.’ The public health ministry used to make big campaigns on “sexual education” -- teaching young people the importance of “living their lives” instead of having children. I believe many young people are totally convinced that abortion is not a homicide; they are blind to the reality because of the campaigns of the government.

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Mexico’s Marriage Problem Interview By: REGINA Magazine

Photos By: Michael Durnan and Beverly Stevens

Feminism among the elites plus widespread consumerism and materialism are taking their toll on Mexican marriages and families, as our correspondents report.

REGINA: Are young Mexicans marrying and having children? Maria Albers: Sadly, as time passes, less and less people believe in the institution of marriage in Mexico, either not seeing the need to get married in the first place, or resorting to divorce at the first indication of trouble in the marriage. People in small towns still tend to get married young, but it would be somewhat different in bigger towns or cities, where women have higher possibilities of getting an education and jobs, therefore putting off getting married nowadays until they’re into their late twenties or early thirties.

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Maria Albers: They feel that doing so gives them more options and makes them independent, which there’s nothing wrong with. The problem, however, comes when they believe that they ‘don’t need a man’ to achieve their goals, including raising children, or want to live together first to ‘test the waters’, becoming comfortable with this arrangement and putting off marriage indefinitely. Derik Castillo Guajardo: Young generations are marrying and having children, but the rates of single mothers or couples in cohabitation are also high.

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Mexico’s Marriage Problem

Fr. Jonathan Romanoski: On Saturdays one can witness many marriage ceremonies in a row in many churches, so there are still many young people marrying and forming families. However during our mission at a smaller town and a new housing development, a startling percentage were just living together in sin, and many didn´t even understand the importance of having their union sacramentally ratified and blessed. A general ignorance is prevailing.

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Fr. Jonathan Romanoski: Nonetheless they naturally love kids and so they are seen everywhere, different from many European countries. Yet the drop off is quite drastic as the older generation was generally of families of 8 to 10 kids, or however many God sent them, whereas the younger generation has much less confidence in God’s providence and are afraid to have many children. The use of contraceptives is widespread and seen as normal. Unfortunately even in the hospitals the doctors abuse their trusted authority to insist that after the second or third child the women have their tubes tied, practically forcing or coercing them to do so.

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Mexico’s Marriage Problem

“A high rate of merely civil marriage or, even more often, free unions, exist in Mexico City.”

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman: Sadly, the Mexican government embraced the population control agenda of the Nixon administration and Rockefeller foundation and other international organizations in the 1960s and 70s and began to actively promote the use of contraception in Mexico at that time. As a result, the fertility rate declined from about seven children per family to what it is today, an abysmal 2.2 children per family. It’s still above replacement level, but just barely. Marriage is still a very strong institution in Mexico, however. Mexicans tend to have lower divorce rates and to take their family obligations more seriously than the ultra-individualist citizens of Anglophone countries. Most couples with children are married. However, a high rate of merely civil marriage or, even more often, free unions, exist in Mexico City.

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Ricardo Lara and Nathaly Robles: The educated youth are marrying, but not having children. They are more interested in good-living, travel, having money; paradoxically the people without university degrees, with low-salary jobs are more interested in having children. Frank and Irene Denke: The Church has been teaching young couples who have babies, and their god-parents, pre-baptismal classes, but these classes have produced problems. For example, a Church marriage can easily cost about $5000 pesos – a month’s salary for many, plus the cost of a new dress, fiesta, etc. While we meet older people that come from large families, most of the younger couples we know have only two or three children.  There is a large number of those we meet who are not married – both old and young. During past generations, the mothers left it to God to determine the size of their family. With the advent of medicines, hospitals, etc., now these costs plays a role that it did not play in years past in making decisions regarding family size.

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Mexico Today: State of the Faith in Mexico

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Imagine No Heaven Mexico Without Vocations

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Imagine No Heaven

ANTI-CATHOLIC POP ART: Mexico’s media and art elites have for over 200 years worked assiduously at discrediting the Church’s religious Orders, but until recent decades the country nevertheless had many vocations. This has suddenly ground to a halt nearly everywhere except one or two traditional states. What’s going on?

Frank and Irene Denke: While I don’t know the situation in other parishes, in our parish many boys are serving with the FSSP priests during the “Extra Ordinary” Latin Mass we have on Sundays in Guadalajara, and some have shown a deep interest in becoming priests and some have already entered the FSSP seminary in Nebraska.  There are many contacts here between priests of the FSSP and groups (marriage; catechism; etc.) of laity in our parish. The FSSP also has a missionary activity that brings people from the US to Mexico to help the poor for several weeks, before they return to the States.  While most don’t speak much Spanish, It has still been very successful.

Ricardo Lara and Nathaly Robles: There are just few young boys that want to act as altar servers. Since 10 years ago, we have seen more girls as altar servers. The registry of the parishes are often attended by women (not always with the best attitude). We can say, in the most of the minor churches there are just one or two (at most) priests, and all the church operations are run by lay people.

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Derik Castillo Guajardo: There are very fine young men discerning their religious vocations. I met a few who were attracted to religion because the family is active in the church, mainly in the Catechism, or another religious movement. Sadly some of them find the seminary not fulfilling their expectations. That is to say, they would like to find an environment where they can grow in sanctity, but this is not always the case, and they quit.

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Frank and Irene Denke: Our young neighbor has been very active for years in a Catholic group of young lay people here who were working under a priest who came from the US in the 1990’s - Fr. Jose F. Pawliki. They organized missionary groups in the Guadalajara area among young married and unmarried youth, then trained and sent them out to evangelize.  Fr. Pawliki died in 1999, but left a very well organized missionary organization that still draws young Mexicans to it these days. 

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Imagine No Heaven

Fr. Jonathan Romanoski: Although there are 40 new priests ordained here in Guadalajara every year, the ratio is still around one priest for every 10 thousand people practically. Which translates to if the priest were to hear confessions every day for two hours in his church, and if everyone would go to confession during that time, each person would have three minutes a year to go to confession. In other dioceses it is one priest for every twenty thousand. And likewise the same crisis in society permeates the clerical ambit as well. One priest told me that of his 40 classmates, after ten years ten had already left the priesthood. The Masonic law of the Mexican Constitution prohibited the use of the cassock 100 years ago so as to exclude Christ from the public forum, and although it was made legal again after the visit of Pope John Paul II generally the clergy go about in lay clothes, which only contributes to the confusion as regards their identity and the appropriate manner to interact with each

other. In short the harvest is ripe but the laborers are few, and the good laborers are even fewer. There are still many altar servers. The previous Archbishop of Guadalajara insisted still that girls not be allowed to serve Mass, as it would naturally deter young boys from participating and thus beginning their first steps toward the altar, and thus he always attributed the large number of vocations in part to the exclusivity of having males as altar servers. Again my experience is that it is a very crucial time. People still generally recognize and respect the priest, so all the doors are open in terms of being able to evangelize in a very natural way. But the forces of evil are ever growing, and many once Catholic countries like Spain and cities like Quebec which were super catholic less than 70 years ago, are now in many ways very hostile to the faith. So the present moment is crucial so as not to follow the same path. “Now is the acceptable time; behold now is the day of salvation.�

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Mexico’s Church in the Spotlight Interview By: REGINA Magazine

Photo Credits: Beverly Stevens

REGINA: We were a bit surprised when an older, retired Mexican academic asked us why we thought Mexicans were such ‘religious extremists’, citing as examples the Santa Muerte death cult and Our Lady of Guadalupe. Where does an attitude such as his come from? Matthew Cullinan Hoffman: Historically, Mexico has been perceived as religiously fanatical for two reasons of which I am aware. The first is simply that the country has a stronger piety than most Latin American countries and those who are less pious are likely to see the more pious as fanatical or extreme. The second reason, however, is the emphasis in Mexico on devotions to saints and to religious images, which is quite strong in relation to other cultures, particularly non-Hispanic cultures, and which sometimes spills over into superstitious practices.

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Mexico’s Church in the Spotlight

Frank and Irene Denke: We have noticed a tendency among Mexicans to talk about “spirits” appearing such as the “Llorona” (crying lady).  It’s not difficult to find people who believe in “Santa Muerte”, and are very motivated by beliefs that are not Catholic.   Mexican history records from the beginning those who practice forms of “witchcraft” among the early Indians, and now we have new “flavors”.  We have “narcos” and their spiritual beliefs. There are also rebel groups in Mexico entering from other countries, each having strange beliefs such as “Santa Trucha” rebels from San Salvador.  Strange beliefs are not uncommon these days.   Let me “change pace” a bit as our neighbor told us an interesting story regarding “The Llorona” (The Crying Lady), as she was the topic of conversations we heard some three years ago by some of our neighbors who were convinced of having “heard her”. Our neighbor lives across the street and his family bakes bread all night to sell the next day.  His brother was baking about 4:00am when he heard the “Crying Lady” and opened the window to see her.  What he found was a car passing slowly by with its lights off, and coming from the car through a loud speaker was the sound of a woman crying.  Needless to say, he became a “disbeliever” in the “Llorona” from then on.   On the other hand, those who have kept their belief in Our Lady of Guadalupe have found more and more reasons – many through scientific studies - to believe more in this truly miraculous event across generations from the 1500’s, and their belief has grown.

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“Mexico is also a society that has a great respect for rituals and customs and its ritualism can be employed both for Christian worship and for the occult and even the demonic. A prime example of the latter is the cult of Santa Muerte (“Saint Death”), which personifies death itself as an object of worship and has been condemned by the Catholic Church. It is associated with criminality and narco-trafficking.” Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

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Mexico’s Church in the Spotlight

Maria Albers: I see why you were a bit shocked. As a former academic, he/she should hold enough knowledge and discernment regarding what extreme and/or pagan factors are, but there are certain beliefs and practices that are embedded in Mexican Catholics for centuries regardless of their socio-economic and cultural background. Of course the belief in La Santa Muerte is extremist, not to mention pagan! As for Our Lady of Guadalupe, a vast number of Mexicans add a good dose of extremism and superstition to their veneration of Her with such conviction that if you don’t believe the same, you are disrespecting Our Lady. You might expect that extremism would be absent above a certain socio-economic and cultural level, but not so. I had the ‘pleasure’ to know devout Catholics of high socio-economic and cultural levels who were heavily involved in beliefs such as La Santa Muerte, and were involved in occult, superstitious practices such as witchcraft, reading cards, etc. I grew up in a Catholic family where believing in, for example, La Santa Muerte, was simply not done because it’s not part of our Catholic Faith, it’s a product of superstition, therefore a sin, period. Having that firm belief since childhood, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around people believing in that or understand why they would be so shocked and judgmental when I would express that I didn’t believe in La Santa Muerte. Derik Castillo Guajardo: I am also an academic, and have friends who are anthropologists. Some academics look to religions like any other phenomenon to be studied, but outside of the religious point of view. From this perspective, religious extremism is related to the bombing of a street market, like in the Middle East.

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REGINA: Does the Church hierarchy seem to be aware of the plight of so many ​Mexicans​, and are they offering the Sacraments as a real support in all of this? Matthew Cullinan Hoffman: It would depend on what one means by “plight.” Mexico is materially poorer than the “first world” but very rich in culture, which is why I moved here. Sadly, it is beset by high levels of crime in many places as well as rampant government corruption. The Church authorities are very aware of the country’s problems and particularly sensitive about their impact on the poor.

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Mexico’s Church in the Spotlight

“Mexico is materially poorer than the “first world” but very rich in culture, which is why I moved here.”

Frank and Irene Denke: We think so, generally. There are priests that try to help the poor here- even to the point of distributing among them what they have. At the same time, there are many priests that enjoy the “good life”.  The people down here are pretty “savvy” about knowing “who is who” - whether bishops or priests. Derik Castillo Guajardo: Yes, Church hierarchy is very aware of the impoverishment of the Mexican population. They approach is perhaps not through the Sacraments, but social support programs. They tend to offer scholarships to young students who do not eat well, and other charities. Of course priests are available for counseling, but the Sacrament of Penance is not offered regularly in all Churches.

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Mexico’s Church in the Spotlight

Maria Albers: To be frank with you, the Church hierarchy in Mexico has always acted in such different ways depending on where you are and who you are. Sadly, if you are rich and popular, the Archbishop himself will perform your marriage ceremony at the Cathedral with one week’s notice. If you are a regular mortal, good luck with trying to have your child baptized at the same Cathedral, after waiting for months, and certainly not by the Archbishop. Please don’t get me wrong, I love my Catholic Faith with all my heart and will always respect my Church, but fallible humans make that church and there are certain behaviors that are simply not acceptable, including the insane wealth many members of the hierarchy live in while serving a people that lives in unspeakable poverty, perhaps having one tortilla with salsa as their only meal of the day. On the other hand, thank God, there are the thousands...millions...of Church hierarchy members that are humble like Jesus and never lose sight of what their mission is, offering the Sacraments and fulfilling their duties as a very real support, from the bottom of their hearts.

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REGINA: With the lack of vocations approaching critical levels, do ​Mexicans ​have much contact with the Church on everyday levels​-for example are boys acting as altar servers​? Maria Albers: Sadly, no, not on every day levels. Using your example of altar servers, that is reserved for special Masses but not for the ordinary Masses, not even the Sunday Mass. This is as a general rule, because there are churches that do have altar servers most of the time, but most done. Also, most times said servers are adults assisting, not boys, which means younger generations are losing that contact with our Faith and Catholic rituals. It is also uncommon to see couples or families act as gift bearers. Usually the gifts are already at the front on a table to the side of the altar and passed to the priest by the adult assisting during the Mass.

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Mexico’s Church in the Spotlight

“ Incorporating the faith into the daily life of Mexican youth that apparently “connects” with the young people of this day,”

Frank and Irene Denke: Our young neighbor has been very active for years in a Catholic group of young lay people here who were working under a priest who came from the US in the 1990s - Fr. Jose F. Pawliki - and organized missionary groups in the Guadalajara area among young married and unmarried youth, then trained and sent them out to evangelize.     Fr. Pawliki died in 1999, but left a very well organized missionary organization, and a way of drawing that still draws young Mexicans to it during these days.  It still is having weekend conferences on a regular basis in Guadalajara and surrounding areas, and a method of incorporating the faith into the daily life of Mexican youth that apparently “connects” with the young people of this day, and has truly kept them interested, our neighbor tells us.

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Mexico’s Church in the Spotlight

The FSSP also has a missionary activity that brings people from the US to Mexico to help the poor for several weeks, before they return to the States.  While most don’t speak much Spanish, It has still been very successful.   Boys do not serve in the “Ordinary Mass” in the Franciscan Basilica near us. (Only Franciscan’s serve).  However, in the diocesan churches, boys (not girls) are serving as far as we know.  While I don’t know the situation in other parishes, in our parish many boys are serving with the FSSP priests during the “Extra Ordinary” Latin Mass we have on Sundays in Guadalajara, and some have shown a deep interest in becoming priests and some have already entered the FSSP seminary in Nebraska.  There are many contacts here between priests of the FSSP and groups (marriage; catechism; etc.) of laity in our parish.

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Ricardo Lara and Nathaly Robles: There are just few young boys that want to act as altar servers. Beginning about ten years ago, we have seen more girls as altar servers. The registry of the parishes are often attended by mistresses, not always with the best attitude. We can say, in the most of the minor churches there are just one or two (at most) priests, and all the church operation is worked by lay people. Derik Castillo Guajardo: There are very fine young men discerning their religious vocations. I met a few who were attracted to religion because the family is active in the church, mainly in the Catechism, or another religious movement. Sadly some of them find the seminary not fulfilling their expectations. That is to say, they would like to find an environment where they can grow in sanctity, but this is not always the case, and they quit. Ricardo Lara and Nathaly Robles: This is a difficult one. I have heard some priests (especially in poor, marginal zones) talk to people about the strength Sacraments give us, inviting the people to visit the Blessed Sacrament for God to help us with our problems, to reduce violence and robberies. The Church hierarchy doesn’t say much about the support of the Sacraments for the people situation.

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Mexico’s Church in the Spotlight

REGINA: Despite periodic persecutions and official government opposition, previous generations seemed to have a deep understanding of the need for the Church as the fundamental organizing principle of society​in Mexico. Is this still the case? Derik Castillo Guajardo: This is not the case these days. A lot of people (including priests) have become lukewarm and accept the usual drill that the Church needs not to participate in the organization of society. This has been the case increasingly since the Cristeros Movement. The Calles laws forbids priests to participate as candidates for public offices, and any reference to religion is banned in elections, as well as political propaganda. Maria Albers: No. Younger generations of Mexicans are not aware, much less appreciative, of the important role that the Catholic Church has played in Mexican culture and society. So many Mexicans were raised in strong Catholic families, families that gave them the grounds to achieve everything they have now. Yet, they dare mock the Church, the Religion, they don’t ‘need’ God, etc....except, of course, when something goes wrong in their lives, then they run to Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica to make all these promises if She solves whatever is afflicting them. No, the understanding, appreciation and pride of Catholicism in Mexico is not what it used to be. Frank and Irene Denke: In a way – while we were taught that the Church’s spirituality is the “building block” of society, when asking our Mexican neighbor (who is deeply Catholic and loves his faith) how the Church is viewed these days as being necessary to build a stronger society, his answer was: “The Church is the most powerful mafia in the world”. Ricardo Lara and Nathaly Robles: According to the surveys, the Church is still one of the most trustworthy institutions in Mexico while the government is not. •

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The FSSP’s ‘Extraordinary’ New House of Formation in Mexico

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FSSP’s ‘Extraordinary’ New House of Formation

Fr. Jonathan Romanoski, FSSP was ordained on May 30, 2008 by His Eminence, Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos and has been ministering in Mexico ever since. Here’s REGINA’s exclusive on-the-spot interview with the Pennsylvania native, 36, on the Fraternity of St. Peter’s newest House of Formation in Guadalajara.

“It has been a wonderful privilege to live in Guadalajara, Mexico for the last eight years -- all the years of my priesthood. What impressed me the most from my first visit is that Christendom, the reign of Christ the King over society existed here on a nationwide level, and there are still remnants of that, seen in the popular presence of a Catholic culture, the very notable friendliness of the people, the respect and love of their priests, aspects which I never saw in this way as an American Catholic. The faith is truly part of their reality, part of their flesh and blood for so many Mexicans. At the same time, I have come to realize that they don’t often know the reasons for their practices, that they are Catholics by culture but not necessarily by conviction, which is a very precarious state to be in. So for me it has been a marvelous exchange of receiving from them a glimpse of what Catholic culture should truly be, and at the same time a chance to help them and fortify their culture with conviction.”

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FSSP’s ‘Extraordinary’ New House of Formation

“Now

we have a beautiful parish of over 300 people, and have been able to expand to Mexico City” REGINA: What made the FSSP decide on Guadalajara as a location? It was all very providential, and I love to tell the story of how one family received us into their home as pilgrims, and told us “mi casa es su casa” (my house is your house), and I very impressed by the friendly Catholic culture that I witnessed here, took them up on their offer, returning the next year to study Spanish on summer break. During my time here studying Spanish, we met the Cardinal, Juan Sandoval Íniguez, who immediately invited us, knowing that there were so many Catholics in Guadalajara who preferred to assist at the Traditional Mass but had not had the opportunity to do so in union with their Bishop.

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That same summer Fr. John Berg was elected as our Superior General. He immediately saw the great need to begin in what was the most Catholic part of the world - Spanish speaking America -- and ideally in the diocese with the most vocations worldwide by far. (There are more than a thousand seminarians beginning their formation in Guadalajara’s secondary school of the minor seminary. On average, forty men are ordained each year.) Now we have a beautiful parish of over 300 people, and have been able to expand to Mexico City --plus we have been able to touch so many thousands more via the internet, television (María Visión, and El Sembrador) and radio at which I regularly attend. To see so many lives touched and transformed and to think that it all started with an act


of hospitality on the part of one family is truly one of the most beautiful things to contemplate, as it is the essence of the Catholic faith, which conquers the world with every humble and generous Fiat to the Annunciation and the Visitation.

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REGINA: What sort of mindset among the clergy have you encountered in this time vis a vis the Latin Mass? In general, the clergy here is very busy, and I think that among those who are interested few find the time to practice and introduce the Latin Mass into their busy pastoral schedules. There are priests who say five or six Masses on a Sunday. At the same time, there is a very collective mentality here, proper to a culture is of one ethnic and religious origin, with the result that for many it would be hard to do something different than the rest. However, I find that the younger priests and especially seminarians react with more enthusiasm toward the traditional Latin Mass. In many instances their vocations are inspired by reading about the great love and reverence toward God and zeal for souls that their Cristeros saints exemplified, who celebrated this same Mass of the ages.

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FSSP’s ‘Extraordinary’ New House of Formation

REGINA: How do Mexicans react to the Latin Mass, when it is available to them? Chant and Polyphony? Our people here are very intuitive. They pray more with their hearts than with their heads, and this is very human. It thus inclines them to easily perceive the beauty of the Mass, with its sacred silence, sacred chant, sacrifice, reverence and orientation toward God. They are not necessarily worried about not having a missal or being able to follow everything, as they prefer to observe and intuit the sacrality of the ceremony. I remember one lady, who started attending every day. After about a month, she told us, “I’m not sure why it is in Latin, or why the priest faces the other way, but I just sense that it is the way that it is supposed to be.” They naturally want to go to communion on their knees, and never receive in their hands and sense that the liturgy is something profoundly reverent toward God, as they are much more theocentric in their truly Catholic way of thinking.

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FSSP’s ‘Extraordinary’ New House of Formation REGINA: Is there a difference between the way older Mexicans react, versus younger people? Many older people react with great joy, as the untold story is that no one asked that they change the Mass. Everyone was profoundly content and accustomed to the contemplative deeply personal way of offering the Mass of the ages as a sacrifice to God showing as much reverence as possible toward God conscience that they are at the feet or Our Lord at Calvary. They often complain of the reverence and respect toward God that we have lost. Among the youth it varies, if they have a little more formation they are struck by its reverence and the enchantment of the sense of the sacred they encounter. Whereas if they do not even understand that the Mass is the re-presentation of Christ’s passion and death, they will have a hard time understanding the orientation of the Traditional Latin Mass, although as I mentioned they are naturally very intuitive; they take note of the sincerity of the reverence which they observe. REGINA: Can you describe the growth of your congregation? About half the community is formed of faithful who had previously assisted at the Latin Mass in independent chapels, who had never by such attendance wanted to separate themselves in any way from the Church, who were quite overjoyed at finding that they could now do so with us in union with their Shepherd. The other half are people who have discovered this treasure of Catholic tradition, and who fell in love with it at first sight. These people have since become convinced in not only the liturgical cult but the culture that it inspires -- namely to not follow the world but to fight to change it, leading with their example of educating their children in their homes, dressing as true Catholic ladies and gentleman, praying the rosary in their homes, and being valiant in their defense of the faith in the public forum.

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“With the help of God the care and preservation of this venerable building will continue so that new generations of Catholics will be able to give glory to God within His Holy house!”

THE FSSP’S PARISH IN GUADALAJARA MEXICO HAS AN ASTONISHING 20TH CENTURY STORY TO TELL. When the Mexican government’s persecution of the Church was at its height in the 1920’s, troops were dispatched to find ‘Our Lady of Zapopan’, the treasured statue of the Basilica there. Faithful Catholics hid Our Lady at the risk of their lives -- in a large vase of flowers (pictured here) placed innocuously before a lesser statue in this unimportant little church. Today, millions visit to venerate the miraculous little figure, restored to her place above the high altar at the Basilica. 234 Regina Magazine | Amazing Parishes


FSSP’s ‘Extraordinary’ New House of Formation

“The other half are people who have discovered this treasure of Catholic tradition, and who fell in love with it at first sight.”

REGINA: Can you describe the growth of your congregation? About half the community is formed of faithful who had previously assisted at the Latin Mass in independent chapels, who had never by such attendance wanted to separate themselves in any way from the Church, who were quite overjoyed at finding that they could now do so with us in union with their Shepherd.

The other half are people who have discovered this treasure of Catholic tradition, and who fell in love with it at first sight. These people have since become convinced in not only the liturgical cult but the culture that it inspires -- namely to not follow the world but to fight to change it, leading with their example of educating their children in their homes, dressing as true Catholic ladies and gentleman, praying the rosary in their homes, and being valiant in their defense of the faith in the public forum.

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REGINA: What are the FSSP’s hopes for this new House of Formation? Will it just be for Mexicans? The house of formation, which still awaits official approval to become an official pre-seminary or first year seminary program, will be able to, in the meantime, receive candidates interested in a vocation with the FSSP from all of Latin America. They will thus be able to be evaluated within their own cultural context, discern their vocation with reference to a very positive and flourishing apostolate and for those who have a vocation receive the adequate preparation and recommendations to continue their studies at one of our two major seminaries. 236 Regina Magazine | Amazing Parishes


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REGINA: We have seen that much of Mexico suffers from an acute shortage of vocations; do you anticipate that this will be a problem for your House? The archdiocese of Guadalajara has two or three times more vocations than any other diocese on the planet. We thus hope that our beginning a house of formation here will be a ripe harvest for all of Latin America which in many places is much more in need of priestly laborers. We have already received many inquiries, and once it becomes more formally established, we expect that many, many more will apply.

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FSSP’s ‘Extraordinary’ New House of Formation

REGINA: You mentioned that the House will serve the dioceses of the United States wishing to teach their priests Spanish. We have now begun a summer school for priests and seminarians both diocesan and religious as well as for our own order who would like to learn Spanish for the ever growing need of attending the Spanish speakers within their congregations. The school is under the patronage of St. Junípero Serra, the great missionary who worked in what is now part of the US. More information can be found on our website: http://fsspmexico.com/st-junipero-serra-spanish-institute/. In addition to just learning Spanish it will be a chance to immerse the priests and seminarians in the culture in its best and more traditional forms so as to help inspire and transmit their traditional Catholic culture in the United States as well, in imitation of Saint Junípero Serra. We likewise invite all to visit the home page of our English website www.fsspmexico.com our Spanish website www.fsspmexico.mx our Facebook page “Fraternidad Sacerdotal San Pedro en Mexico,”. More information on our mission trips which Americans can participate in and support are available at www.missiontradition.us. And in advance we thank you for all your prayers and support. Information on how to donate is available at the English speaking website http://fsspmexico.com/donate/

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Celebrating the Mass of Ages On a Mexico City Traffic Island

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Celebrating the Mass of Ages

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t may be the smallest church in the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere. This delicate chapel, the Inmaculada Concepcion de María, was built centuries years ago, on the outskirts of Mexico City at Salto del Agua. Today, this living reminder of Mexico’s Spanish colonial architecture is stranded incongruously on a Mexico City traffic island in the historic center. The chapel rises like a ghostly apparition above the choking traffic exhaust inundating one of the poorest districts in this city of 21 million souls.

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Celebrating the Mass of Ages

AS PEOPLE HAVE ABANDONED THE FARMING COMMUNITIES unable to compete against global agribusiness, they have migrated to the cities and across the US border. Mexico City has quadrupled in size in the last 20 years. Many wind up here, in this jumbled urban neighborhood of crowded, narrow streets, jostling crowds, dirt and noise.

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MIGRANTS LIVE IN HAZARDOUS HOUSING. Family-run shops belly up to perilous sidewalks left unrepaired for years; one false step could earn you broken bones.

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Mexico Today: State of the Faith in Mexico

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IN THE MIDST OF THE SALTO DEL AGUA BARRIO, Inmaculada Concepcion de MarĂ­a has sat disused for decades, its lovely oil paintings and statuary in danger of destruction from water leaks and intense pollution. A native of Australia and fluent in Spanish, Fr. Fryar began to offer the Latin Mass at noon in the little chapel, every day.

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REGINA: How long have you ministered as an FSSP priest in Mexico City? FR KENNETH FRYAR, FSSP: As a priest I have lived in Mexico City since September 2014. Before that I used to travel twice per month to offer Mass for the Faithful in a chapel of the cathedral, called ‘Animas’ (‘Souls’).

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REGINA: Mexico City is known as the least Catholic place in Mexico, with less than 10% attending weekly Mass there. FR KENNETH FRYAR, FSSP: It seems that more recent statistics show an even lower percentage of Catholics attend Holy Mass on Sundays. There are obviously many reasons why people don’t want to go to Mass, but the main reason is the lack of interest in supernatural or spiritual realities. Materialism has a strong hold on the minds and hearts of the Faithful. Many of them would rather work on Sundays.

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Celebrating the Mass of Ages

“Some of our Faithful had known the Extraordinary Form of Mass before, but the majority have discovered it here for the first time in their lives.”

REGINA: Sounds like the Faith is of little importance, then, to people in Mexico City? FR KENNETH FRYAR, FSSP: Most don’t understand or care that there is an obligation and a need to go to Mass every Sunday. For many God is not of any importance; they get baptism, First Holy Communion, and the other Sacraments more out of custom than out of real religious conviction. REGINA: Your lovely chapel is colonial-era, today incongruously stranded on a traffic island in the midst of busy commercial thoroughfares. Do Mexicans value an architectural gem like this chapel? FR KENNETH FRYAR, FSSP: There certainly are many Mexicans who value the beauty of the old churches in the city. Unfortunately, they are not only Catholics, so many enter the church gazing up and down, from side to side, often talking out loud, showing no respect at all for the holiness of the place, much less for the Divine Lord dwelling therein. REGINA: We have seen the same phenomenon in Italy – so disconcerting to see people from a Catholic culture treat a church like a museum, right? FR KENNETH FRYAR, FSSP: It seems like they have no idea why anyone would bother to build such edifices. It must be a real thorn in the side for the many atheists and neo-pagans to see that previous generations were so sure about the greatness of God that they often spent several decades building a single church to honor Him.

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“After having attended about three or four times they begin to feel a preference for this Form of the Mass.�

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Celebrating the Mass of Ages

REGINA: You have been in your chapel for less than two years; how is the growth in your ‘congregation’? FR KENNETH FRYAR, FSSP: The growth is relatively slow. None of our Faithful live close to the church. Most of the people that come have heard about us by word of mouth.

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REGINA: As you sweep through the neighborhoods in your cassock, what reactions do you get? FR KENNETH FRYAR, FSSP: There are many varied reactions from the people on the street. Often they will greet the Priest. Some will ask for a blessing. Some will call out the name of a bad priest from a well-known movie. Others make comments in their conversation like: ‘There’s the priest, you should confess your sins…’

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Celebrating the Mass of Ages

“Some of them feel that the way Mass is celebrated in their previous place of worship does not help them to grow spiritually, or that it does not draw them closer to God.� REGINA: It seems you are attracting a cadre of young men who are interested in serving the Mass. Are they also interested in the priesthood? FR KENNETH FRYAR, FSSP: Several of them have expressed interest in the priesthood with the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, but the main difficulty for most of them is that they need to learn English in order to study at our Seminary in Lincoln, Nebraska. We would need lots of generous benefactors in order to establish a seminary for Spanish- speaking seminarians. In that case, there would certainly be more vocations to the traditional priesthood. Inquiries and donations should be directed to: http://fsspmexico.com/donate/

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Hidden Jewel: The Latin Mass in Mexico Photos By: Michael Durnan and Beverly Stevens

Article By: REGINA Magazine

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REGINA: The Latin Mass is almost unknown in most of Mexico. Why is th​is?​ Maria Albers: Unless you are/were educated in a Catholic institution or raised in a Catholic family with basic knowledge of the religion, you won’t learn much about religion from other sources. That, together with the lukewarm attitude towards the Faith, doesn’t make the average Catholic in Mexico as educated in the Faith as he/she could be. Derik Castillo Guajardo: The Latin Mass is slowly growing in Mexico. There are only two cities with an FSSP presence. The SSPX has a more widespread presence in the country. People unfamiliar with the Latin Mas, often believe that Latin-Mass-goers hate the Ordinary form of the Roman Rite, and everything related to the Vatican II, and therefore, even priests are unaware of Church Documents like the Motu Proprio. This is an obstacle for the spread of the Latin Mass in Mexico. Another one is the small number of priestly vocations.

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Mexico Today: State of the Faith in Mexico

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The Latin Mass in Mexico

Frank and Irene Denke: Bishops, in general, have not favored the Latin Mass. The New Mass is easier for Mexicans to attend and understand, even though the Latin Mass is often recognized as more reverent, but the general ”custom” of attending the New Mass offers an easier path, and understanding of what is spoken, that appeals to most.  The Latin Mass slowly grows by attracting new faithful, because of they love the reverence of the Latin Mass. 262 Regina Magazine | Amazing Parishes


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The Latin Mass in Mexico

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman: I would say that the traditional Latin Mass is not unknown in Mexico but that for historical reasons it is perceived as a sectarian phenomenon rather than a movement from within the Church. Mexico was probably the first country in the world to have sedevacantist sects following the Second Vatican Council – the first one, which is called the Union Católica Trento (The Catholic Tridentine Union), was founded by Fr. Joaquìn Sàenz y Arriga, a Jesuit priest, in 1966, even before the introduction of the Novus Ordo Missae. The UCT has sedevacantist chapels in many places in Mexico, and other sedevacantist groups do as well. I believe that in Guadalajara alone there are more than a dozen. The Society of St. Pius the Tenth (SSPX), which acknowledges the pope but does not submit to his direction, is also present in many cities in Mexico. This makes clergy who work within the Church very suspicious of faithful who wish to have the traditional Latin Mass. The problem has been that although Pope John Paul II began to encourage bishops throughout the world to be generous in their provision of the Latin Mass, the faithful did not organize to ask for such masses. When I first arrived in Mexico in 2006 no such indult masses existed and my request for one in the city of San Luís Potosí was never answered. However, in 2008 the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) first arrived in Guadalajara and was soon also in Mexico City. The cardinal archbishops of both cities have been very welcoming towards the FSSP and the apostolate in Guadalajara is growing quickly and bearing much fruit. However, we have a long way to go before we see approved masses throughout the country.

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The Latin Mass in Mexico

Ricardo Lara and Nathaly Robles: It’s very sad to say this, but it seems the same priests don’t want the people to know the Tridentine Mass. Some seminarians told me that the change of the language in the Mass was because the people can’t grow spiritually since they can’t speak Latin. Those ideas are coming from the education they are receiving in the seminary. Actually, when my group tried to organize Latin Masses in different parishes, we found a lot of opposition from the parish priests. Fr. Jonathan Romanoski: In general, the Mexicans, being culturally catholic, have a collective and family-like mentality by which they naturally do things together, and hence it would be seen as very strange to do something different, as there are no ethnic or religious differences among the people. However being very traditional by tendency and of deep sentiments there was resistance to the liturgical changes and many places especially here in Guadalajara where they conserved the traditional Latin Mass although this was largely led by independent groups such as the Society of St. Pius X, or the Society of Trent, which whom the Latin Mass became associated as something disobedient and against the authority of the Church. When our Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter arrived in 2008 to Guadalajara, we were referred to by many as Lefevbrist priests, simply because we say the Lefevbrist Mass, as that was the colloquial connotation for any celebration of it for so many years.

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Fr. Jonathan Romanoski: However, learning that it is approved and that there are various orders founded by the Church who celebrate it, has created a growing interest in it, as again they naturally tend to be more traditional in their religious tendencies, and in general I would say that they pray more with their heart than with their head, and they naturally intuit and feel drawn by the reverence and sense of the sacred that they perceive in the Traditional Latin Mass. • 268 Regina Magazine | Amazing Parishes


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Profile for Regina Magazine

Vol 19 - The Secret Catholic Insider’s Guide to Mexico  

A Catholic Quinceañara for Trinity

Vol 19 - The Secret Catholic Insider’s Guide to Mexico  

A Catholic Quinceañara for Trinity

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