Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Catholics at war

The impact of Mexico's three-year Cristero Rebellion in the 1920s will enter American popular culture next month with the release of a new film, "For Greater Glory," which stars Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria.

Catholic News Service reports:

The rebellion saw Catholic clergy and laity taking up arms to oppose government efforts to harshly restrict the influence of the church and defend religious freedom. In the end, the rebellion of the Cristero -- soldiers for Christ -- was quelled in 1929, leaving the church sidelined for much of the last century and its role limited to a pastoral concerns with no say in the public policy arena.

Ask Mexicans about the rebellion and the answers about what it means today depends on a person's point of view.

. . .

Victor Ramos Cortes, a professor at the University of Guadalajara, said any reading of history must consider the factors of religious intolerance, agrarian land issues in a country with numerous landless farmers and the threat posed by the church hierarchy to the liberal elites of the time.

Such nuanced readings of the era are rare.

"In our country, each history is presented as if it were the only true version and the other is erroneous," Ramos said.

The Cristero legacy remains somewhat divisive, with the conflict and the beatification and canonization of Cristero martyrs at the center of the church's agenda.

The Archdiocese of Guadalajara is building a large sanctuary on a prominent hilltop to memorialize Mexico's martyrs, and Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass during his visit in March for 640,000 people at the foot of the Cerro del Cubilete, site of a giant Christ statue built to remember those fighting the rebellion.

Father Manuel Corral, Mexican bishops' conference spokesman, has seen the film and speaks well of its message of "showing young people that there's something worth fighting for."

He also considers its release a sign of how much Mexico has changed in terms of religious tolerance and the more prominent role the church is taking in public life.

"Twenty-five years ago, it would have been impossible to release a movie like this," he said.

The rest of the article is here.