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Faith and Politics Clash in Mexican Presidential Debate

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Our Lady of Guadalupe took center stage during the presidential debate in Mexico this week after candidate Xochitl Galvez accused her opponent, Claudia Sheinbaum, of "political opportunism" for wearing a skirt with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, "even though you don't believe in her or in God."

Highlights

By Catholic Online (California Network)
5/22/2024 (3 weeks ago)

Published in Americas

Keywords: Mexico, presidential debate, faith, politics, Our Lady of Guadalupe, election

Galvez is running for president for the Fuerza y Corazon por Mexico (Strength and Heart for Mexico) coalition â€" which brings together the political parties National Action Party (PAN), Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) â€" and Sheinbaum is running for the Sigamos Haciendo Historia (Let's Continue Making History) alliance headed by Morena, the political party founded by the current president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Various surveys released in recent weeks in Mexico place Sheinbaum and Galvez as the two leading candidates in the campaign for president. Trailing behind is Jorge alvarez Maynez from the Movimiento Ciudadano (Citizens' Movement). The election will take place on June 2.

During the third presidential debate on May 19, when the topic of "Migration and Foreign Policy" was addressed, Galvez made reference to a previous meeting that both candidates had at the Vatican with Pope Francis in February.

"We both had a meeting with the pope; did you tell His Holiness how you wore the Virgin of Guadalupe on a skirt, even though you do not believe in her or in God? Did you tell him that you destroyed a church when you were the Tlalpan borough president? You have every right to not believe in God, it's a personal issue. What you do not have the right to do is use the faith of Mexicans as political opportunism. That's hypocrisy," Galvez charged.

In response, Sheinbaum said Galvez's accusations were "an absolute provocation" to which she would not respond.

According to the Infobae portal, on May 5, 2022, Sheinbaum, then head of the Mexico City government, attended a popular celebration held in the Venustiano Carranza sector of the Mexican capital. During the event, she received gifts, including a skirt with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which she later wore during the celebrations in the streets.

As for tearing down a church, this accusation refers to the partial demolition of the Lord of Labor Chapel (a local devotion to Christ as the protector of workers and the unemployed) in the Mexico City sector of Tlalpan on April 29, 2016. Sheinbaum was then president of that neighborhood's borough when, in what the authorities described as a "mistake," government workers demolished part of the Catholic church.

Conflicts between the Catholic Church and the Mexican state date back to the second half of the 19th century, but tensions reached a critical point with the promulgation of the 1917 Constitution, which was markedly anticlerical.

This constitution paved the way for the religious persecution that took place in Mexico in the 1920s under the regime of President Plutarco Elias Calles, which in turn sparked the Cristero War, with Catholics in various parts of the country taking up arms to defend themselves from government persecution. The conflict produced martyrs such as St. Jose Sanchez del Rio, Jesuit Blessed Miguel Pro, Blessed Anacleto Gonzalez, and St. Cristobal Magallanes and Companions, among many more.

Although the Cristero War ended in mid-1929, the persecution lasted several more years. It would not be until 1992 that Mexico's constitution was reformed and the Law on Religious Associations and Public Worship was promulgated, which recognizes the legal status of the Catholic Church in the country.

The Mexican constitution allows Mexican priests to vote but prohibits ministers of worship from "proselytizing for or against any candidate, party, or political association."

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