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Separation of Church and Party… to save the Church

21 July 2009

While it’s not surprising that the Catholic Church is worried about its falling “market share” in Mexico, what is surprising is that a study done by the Archdiocese of Guadalajara discovers that one reason the Church is viewed as irrelevant by increasing numbers of Mexicans is an image problem — it’s seen as too closely identified with PAN.

Claudio Bañuelos original article (my translation) appeared in La Jornada (19 July 2009):

Aguascalientes, Ags. The auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, Jose Trinidad González Rodriguez, warns that it is “urgent” for the Catholic Church to separate its “image” from that of the National Action Party (PAN) because too many of the faithful in Jalisco and elsewhere see the Church as supporting the party.

González , who also is the coordinating Bishop for Charismatic Catholic Renewal said he came to this conclusion after looking at a study which showed that many in the country were leaving the Church for political reasons. The “Pan debacle”, he said, was predicted by this study, and is likely to be a further drag on the Catholic Church.

The results call for the Church to “always keep itself far from any particular political party platform, respecting all of them,” he said.

He emphasized that to maintain the faithful and to rescue and reconquer others for Christ and his gospel, Catholicism must be seen as impartial and apolitical, “while of course priests and bishops have the same rights as any citizen,” he added.

The same study showed that in cities like Leon, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, Colima, Aguascalientes and Tépic, Nayarit, there is “hope” that children and adolescents will not loose their faith, but that in Guadelajara – the capital of Jalisco – “it’s a losing battle.”

Furthermore, the study shows that seventy percent of professionals no longer go to Mass. “It is urgent we develop a new pastorate focused on the Holy Spirit, to stop the slide in the youth population we’re seeing presently in the Archdioceses of Guadalajara. We need a new kind of priest, to make sure we don’t lose them, as we have the business class, the professionals, the union members and the politicians – to stop them from going down the tubes, too,” he admitted.

One bright spot for the Church was the finding that eighty percent of women trust their priests, but – at the same time – are more critical of the clergy in general. “This reveals another very difficult field of endeavor that the Church needs to consider,” Bishop González added.

González also touched on what he sees as a new religious attitude, well-established in this country: “valemadrismo” by which he means the family no longer attends the liturgy, leaving it for the women and younger children. This is the reason he insists “The Church’s challenge is to reclaim the Christ of the Gospels for the millions of adolescents and the professionals who have given up on parishes, Masses and priests.

What makes this study — and its conclusions — doubly interesting is that the Archdiocese of Guadalajara is known for its conservative clerics and the sometimes overt displays of political partisanship on the part of its clergy. Much of the area covered by the Archdiocese was that where the Cristero movement of the 1920s was strongest, and what foreigners often mean by “the real Mexico”… and where they assume religious piety is a part of the culture.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 21 July 2009 8:01 pm

    For all of the talk of church-state coziness in PAN-ruled Jalisco – and all the talk of the Yunque – the Archdiocese of Guadalajara is as tight with the state chapter of the PRI as it is with the state chapter of the PAN.

  2. Kenn Young permalink
    23 July 2009 4:32 pm

    I just read the related article “Church payout for pervert priests”. The article proposes that priests should be sued and not the church. The reason why the church is open to lawsuits is that they knew of the “sins” of the pervert priests and insisted on covering up the sins and protecting the priests at any cost. (Damn the parishioners, full speed ahead)

    You are right that the church needs to separate itself from party politics in order to save itself.
    It would also help if they stopped pushing fear, hate and absolutism and practiced the message of love.

    Keep up the good work.

    Kenn

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