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Bearing false witness, or coveting thy neighbor’s Picassos?

17 October 2008

Los ministros de cultos, sus ascendientes, descendientes, hermanos y cónyuges, así como las
asociaciones religiosas a que aquellos pertenezcan, serán incapaces para heredar por testamento,
de las personas a quienes los propios ministros.

(Ministers of religions, their immediate ancestors and descendents, siblings and spouses, in addition to the religious associations to which they belong, are ineligible to inherit from the wills of members of their congregation)

Article 131 of the Mexican Constitution

This particular paragraph — which I very roughly translated, not having any legal dictionaries at hand — was meant to end what 19th century anti-clericals claimed was a common clerical practice… convincing elderly and naive parishoners to will the pastor their fortune.  You hear about this happening today in the U.S. now and again, though in 1916 no one gave any thought to televangalists (and, in Mexico, you can’t broadcast religious services anyway).  And, hard-core anti-clericals that they mostly were, when it came to enshrining strict controls on the church in the 1916-17 Mexican constitution, the framers seemed to go to absurd lengths to close off any possible loophole.

I suppose it’s possible that somewhere, at some point, some priest disguised himself as the beneficiary of a will by convincing some dotty old lady to leave her family silver to his grandmother, who could give it to him, but I tend to think there were just too many lawyers sitting around and too much tequila that winter in Queretaro.  Maybe not….

Citius64 writes about the latest clerical scandal to surface.  Bishop Onésimo Cepeda of Ecatepec inherited an art collection, including works by José Clemente Orozco, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, Joaquín Sorolla, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso and  Modigliani worth an estimated 130 million DOLLARS from the late Olga Azcárraga (sister of Rogelio Azcárraga , who owns Radio Formula, and a member of the extended clan of media moguls) who died in 2003.

According to the late Ms. Azcárraga’s family, the art work had been left to several dozen different family members and various religious organizations in her original will.  Some time in the last six months of her life, she made Bishop Cepeda sole heir.  The Azcárraga family may be clerical supporters and “richer than God”… but they’re not about to turn over the loot to THIS man of God.

I’m sure it’s not the money… but the principle of the thing.  Just as I’m sure pigs fly.  The Azcárraga family lawyers have filed criminal charges against His Grace for fraud.  This… should …. be … fun.

Man of God (front); Man of law (rear)

Man of God (front); Man of law (rear)


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