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Render unto Caesar… or else.

3 September 2020

In the US, when politicians are asked their favorite books, they invariably mention the Bible. Even former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, asked to name three books he’d read (as if he ever read three books in his life!) mentioned it. And in the US, quoting the Bible, or some religious authority, is standard operating practice, both on the campaign trail, and in the halls of power. Not so here…

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s electoral authority ordered the president to remove a political ad that referred to Pope Francis and the Gospel.

In an Aug. 31 decision, the National Electoral Institute’s complaints commission said the ad, which promoted President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s annual state-of-the nation-address, violated rules regarding religious content.

In his ad, López Obrador said, “Pope Francis has said helping the poor is not communism, it is the center of the Gospel.”

He continued, “We have clean consciences and enormous joy of helping the poor, the neediest and the dispossessed.” (Catholic News Service)

While, of course, the strict separation of Church and State is absolute here (and there have been two civil wars… in the 1850s and the 1920s largely pitting the two forces against each other), this is also a country where rules are made to be… not broken, but bent.

As has been the practice in the last few years, Andres Manuel López Obrador, presented a series of advertisements for his administration in the days leading up to the “Informe”, the first of September constitutionally required presidential report to Congress. With what critics there are of the social benefits program reduced to ridiculous charges that things like stipends for students, old age relief, and assistance programs for underserved communities is “Communist”, AMLO quoted a well known Jesuit priest… Pope Francis. Which led to complaints from PAN… you know… the political party founded on, and claiming adherence to, Catholic social teachings. Specifically Jesuit ones (or, claiming to. Let’s skip their Fascist roots for now).

The first PAN president, Vicente Fox, raised eyebrows (and made the front pages of the lefty press) for more than quoting a pope… kissing John Paul II’s ring (and the subject of the very first Mex File, a compare-contrast between the simultaneous arrival of His Holiness and Brittany Spears) . Fox, incidentally, went to the trouble of obtaining a Papal annulment for his first marriage, in order to religiously marry his second wife, Marta Sahagún, who was close to, and a support of, the semi-secretive Falagist (Catholic Fascist) Yunque.

PAN raised no complaints when AMLO’s first run for the presidency, was a coalition of small left-wing parties (and the then third major party, PRD) running under the collective name of “The good of all, but first the poor”… a mouthful of a phrase… borrowed directly from Catholic theological texts.

Nor was there any hesitation on the part of PAN to “suggest” to Bishops that they favor the party in their public statements (though, to the credit, most Bishops were canny enough to avoid outright endorsements).

But then again, when it comes to politics, and your party is known more for having presided over the mass slaughter of the “drug war” and it’s best sales point is that it isn’t quite as corrupt as the other (former) major party (although between PRI and PAN, which is #1 in corruption is anyone’s guess). trying to claim AMLO — “guilty” of such crimes as letting corrupt politicians be arrested without any interference, promoting old age pensions and financial assistance to students, single parents and indigenous communities — is ipso facto a Communist, a foolish consistency would be… the hobgoblin of their little minds.  Maybe AMLO’s  programs sound something like something some Marxist somewhere might say… but it comes in a Jesusy package.  They again,  he’s a politician, not a choirboy.

But he was an alter boy back in rural Tabasco, and makes no secret of being a Bible reader.  Maybe PAN objects to him muscling in on their turf.  I might think, but would never say (if I were a politician in Mexico) that PAN might look at Matthew 7:5.  This too shall pass (or is that a taboo phrase, too?).

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