Values of life and family in catastrophic decline in Mexico (Part 2)

Since Pope Francis visited in 2016, Mexico has rapidly lost ground to anti-family movements, while the country’s Catholic hierarchy has fallen increasingly into disarray.

Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes of Mexico City is pictured in a 2021 video for an ad campaign promoting COVID-19 vaccines throughout the Americas. (CNS Screenshot/courtesy Ad Council)

Editor’s note: Part 1 of this essay was published on August 15, 2023.


Mexico’s post-2016 denouement: abortion decriminalized, violent feminist marches begin

Since Pope Francis visited in 2016, Mexico has rapidly lost ground to anti-family movements, while the country’s Catholic hierarchy has fallen increasingly into disarray. In 2017, news outlets began to note that the violent, pro-abortion and anti-Catholic “International Women’s Day” marches, that previously had been confined to Argentina, were now beginning to occur in Mexico City. The marches, which left a trail of graffiti and physical damage on Church buildings, spread quickly, and soon became an annual ritual in major cities throughout the country. Today, they are being openly endorsed by major archdioceses.

In December 2018, only two years after the stunning 2016 defeat of the Institutional Revolutionary Party over its endorsement of homosexual “marriage,” the ardently pro-abortion and pro-LGBT socialist Morena party swept national and state elections, including the presidency. Following Morena’s victory, new appointees to the Supreme Court began to move the court away from its previous pro-life position. In 2021, the court would reverse its previous rulings affirming the right of the states to prohibit abortion, nullifying all criminal penalties for abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy.

During the same period, approval of homosexual “marriage” by Mexico’s 31 states steadily increased. Prior to 2016, it existed in only four states. By 2018, five more had been added. Following the accession of the socialist Morena party at the end of 2018, the numbers rose by eight more, to a total of 15 by November 2020, slightly less than half of Mexico’s 32 federal entities.

Pope Francis drops homosexual union bomb

It was then that new remarks made by Pope Francis caused even more confusion about the Church’s position. In October 2020, a segment from a private interview by Pope Francis with a reporter from the Mexican television network Televisa was broadcast in which the pontiff flatly endorsed homosexual civil union legislation and spoke of the homosexual “family” as a “right.”

“Homosexuals have the right to be in a family,” said Francis. “They are children of God and have the right to a family. What we have to do is create a civil union law. That way they’re covered legally. I support that.”

The pope’s statement was widely quoted in Latin America. In response to questions about it, the Vatican accused the documentary-maker of taking the quotes out of context, but simultaneously agreed that Francis supported protections for same-sex unions.

In December 2020, the Cardinal Primate of Mexico Carlos Aguiar Retes expressed his enthusiastic agreement with Francis’ statements.

“I strongly agree with the Holy Father, strongly agree,” Aguiar Retes told Reuters in a widely-reported interview, adding, “Everyone has a right to their family. If they, by their own decision, in their freedom, decide to be with another person and unite, that is freedom.”

In October of 2021, Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega, also endorsed homosexual civil unions with a tweet that seemed to discard his earlier condemnation of such unions. “People with same-sex preferences have the right for their unions to be protected by the law,” the cardinal wrote, adding “but it is not just to equate them to marriage.”

The two leading Catholic prelates in the country were now in favor of legal support for homosexual unions, in keeping with Pope Francis own public declarations. However, the statements of all three prelates were directly contrary to the directives of the Holy See issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2003 under the authority of Pope John Paul II.

The CDF document calls laws recognizing homosexual unions “unjust laws”, and instructs that a Catholic politician “must oppose it in the ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty to witness to the truth.” It also quotes the encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae (par. 73), which requires “absolute personal opposition” to laws that endorse “crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize.”

Attempts at nuance distinguishing homosexual civil unions from marriage were lost on public officials and their constituents. Within the space of less than two years following the statements of Pope Francis, Cardinal Aguiar Retes, and Cardinal Robles Ortega, the remaining 15 Mexican states had approved homosexual “marriage,” in an unprecedented frenzy of legislation and executive orders. Today, it is a recognized right in every federal entity of the union, and includes the right of adoption.

Therapy for same-sex attraction banned, pro-family groups fined

Mexico is now on the brink of approving federal legislation to prohibit any kind of therapy oriented towards relieving people of same-sex attraction, both for minors and adults. The legislation passed the nation’s senate in 2022 and is now being approved by various committees of the national Chamber of Deputies, the lower legislative house. It will soon be voted on and is expected to pass.

Meanwhile, federal agencies have begun to politically persecute pro-family organizations for the crime of referring to people according to their actual, biological sex. In February of this year the nation’s Electoral Tribunal found the president of the National Front for the Family guilty of the crime of “political violence against women because of gender” for criticizing a male representative in the Chamber of Deputies named Salva Luévano who claims to be a woman, and who has pushed for legislation to penalize religious groups for “inciting hatred” against transsexuals. Luévano has also mocked Catholics by dressing up as a bishop on the floor of the Chamber of Deputies.

According to the court, the National Front for the Family made “offensive and discriminatory statements by rejecting gender identity and by disrespecting the work of the federal deputy, which constitutes digital, symbolic, psychological, and sexual violence against her.” In addition to a fine, the offending posts were removed from social media by court order, and the National Front for the Family has been ordered to apologize publicly and to publish the decision on the same social media. The same court also fined a federal deputy in 2021 for objecting to Luévano taking up a seat that would normally be allocated to a woman. The nation’s bishops have been virtually mute in the face of this persecution.

The divorce rate in Mexico has continued to rise rapidly. In 2019, it reached a peak of 160,107 per year, which is an increase of 60 percent above the rate of the last full year (2012) of Benedict XVI’s papacy. The rate of increase in relation to the declining marriage rate was a whopping 88 percent higher. (Both marriages and divorces fell in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID restrictions.)

While the divorce rate has increased, the marriage rate has fallen dramatically. Mexico’s marriage rate had increased during the last years of Benedict’s papacy, and leveled off in 2013. In 2014 it began to decline, falling from 583,264 in 2013 to 504,923 in 2019, a loss of 13% even as the population and the divorce rate continued to increase.

Measures permitting change of “gender identity” on birth certificates have now been implemented in 19 states, and those states that have not provided for such options are subject to federal court orders to carry them out. Recently the Supreme Court has begun to issue such orders to states for changes to birth certificates for minors as well.

As the Church appears weakened in the face of militant secularism, the government is moving to ban it from public spaces. In 2021, several members of the clergy were convicted of violating Mexico’s electoral laws for making very general statements about the values of life and family in upcoming elections, or for condemning socialism. The Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on a lawsuit to prohibit the placement of nativity scenes and other religious image in public places, a tradition that is virtually universal in the country. One of the judges has already expressed his intention to rule in favor of the plaintiffs in the case.

In the land of the Cristeros, transgender ideology is on the march

In the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, the second largest in the country, the inroads made by the LGBT movement appear to be even greater than in the Archdiocese of Mexico City. Since the intervention of Pope Francis’ new apostolic nuncio in 2016, the archdiocesan newspaper Semanario has been virtually silent on the progress of homosexual “marriage” and other attacks on the family. Simultaneously, the state government has made repeated attacks on life and family values with little to no opposition from the archdiocese.

Following the pope’s statement in favor of protecting homosexual unions in late 2020, the same publication has begun to employ openly pro-LGBT and feminist rhetoric, including two front-page-headlined articles endorsing transgender ideology, and an entire special issue supporting radical feminism, issued to coincide with violent anti-Catholic feminist marches on “International Women’s Day.”

The newspaper declared that transgender people have a “brain that recognizing itself has having a gender that doesn’t correspond to its biology,” adding that “the variation in the brain of a Trans and Gender Diverse person is not a pathology. In 2015, the World Health Organization recognized that being trans is not an illness, nor needs a cure.” The same issue told parents that “minors” have an internationally-recognized “right to [gender] identity” and that “parents and teachers have the obligation to accompany them in the process of self-recognition.”

The articles were published a few weeks following the issuance of a new baptismal certificate by the archdiocese recognizing the modified “gender identity” of a male drag queen who wishes to be considered a woman. Following an outcry in the archdiocese, both articles were removed and the baptismal certificate was revoked. A stilted apology was made by one of the editors of Semanario, but no comment was made publicly by Robles Ortega.

Simultaneously, the state of Jalisco, of which Guadalajara is the capital and which historically has been seen as the most Catholic of all states due to its central role in the Cristero War of the 1920s and 1930s, some of the most aggressive anti-Catholic and pro-LGBT laws have been implemented.

In 2017, Guadalajara’s left-wing mayor spent the equivalent of 250,000 USD to erect a statue on a public thoroughfare that combined the features of an Aztec goddess and the Virgin Mary, an act that provoked outrage across the state, and attracted thousands of protesters from hundreds of miles away. Rather than condemning the statue, Cardinal Robles Ortega offered what appeared to be a backhanded defense of the protesters. The work “disturbs simple people,” the cardinal told the press. “That is to say, those who don’t have the capacity to transcend the work of art and its meaning.” Retired Cardinal Juan Sandoval condemned the statue unequivocally. The statue was never removed and remains to this day.

In October of 2020, a week after the pope’s statements in favor of protecting homosexual unions, the governor of the state of Jalisco issued a decree making the state one of only two in the union that would allow a change in “gender identity” in birth certificates for both adults and children. In April of 2022, the state legislature passed laws prohibiting all forms of conversion therapy both for adults and children. In January, the first “non-binary” birth certificate was issued by the state.

It would seem that, after decades of resistance, Mexico as a whole, and even the land of the Cristeros, is now becoming a “desolate city” for life and family values.

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About Matthew Cullinan Hoffman 30 Articles
Matthew Cullinan Hoffman is a Catholic essayist and journalist, and the author and translator of The Book of Gomorrah and St. Peter Damian's Struggle Against Ecclesiastical Corruption (2015). His award-winning articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, London Sunday Times, Catholic World Report, LifeSite News, Crisis, the National Catholic Register, and many other publications. He holds an M.A. in Philosophy from Holy Apostles College and Seminary, with a focus on Thomism.


  1. “Since Pope Francis visited in 2016, Mexico has rapidly lost ground to anti-family movements, while the country’s Catholic hierarchy has fallen increasingly into disarray.”

    The small Remnant who have Resisted the “Spirit of Francis” and refuse to change by attending the banished Traditional Latin Mass, rigidly adhering to the ten Commandments and Natural Law should get ready. The New Synodal Way Rupture of End-Game Bergoglioism with has No Need of Catholics.

    Agenda 2030 and full communion with the “2nd bishop in white, that’s me”* or Rigid old Catholicism and Excommunication with Bergoglioism.

    1,969 years of resistance to “the Spirit of Francis” is nearly Over…

    • I saw online there’s a massive, beautiful, new SSPX church consecrated recently in Puebla, Mexico. It’s truly a shame that we can’t all reconcile. There’s strength in numbers.
      I visited Mexico earlier this year & a gentleman at a NO Mass came up & thanked me for wearing my mantilla. There’s a great heritage of faith in Mexico & deep devotion to Our Lady but like here, well funded anti-family lobbying groups also.

  2. And, to notice that Mexico was dumped in the same apple barrel as North America to be one of the seven “continental assemblies” for the convoluted Synod on Synodality.

    And Cardinal Hollerich, synodal royalty, has already signaled where the hell he wants to take things…“I believe that this [the teaching that homosexual actions are objectively sinful] is false. But I also believe that here we are thinking further about the teaching […] this can lead to a change in teaching […] I believe that the sociological-scientific foundation of this teaching is no longer correct [….].”

    Instead, “Some men think the Earth is round, others think it is flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King’s command make it round? And if it is round will the King’s command flatten it? No, I will not sign” (Thomas More, “A Man for All Seasons”).

    Hollerich: “in season and out of season”? At the Synods, how many will garble and sign a union between a secular flat earth and a theological square circle?

    • As one who is never quite fully informed, I find now that Cardinal Hollerich has apparently retracted (a year ago!) his earlier statement that Church teachings on sexual morality should be reversed. Instead, a reaffirmed loyalty to the Church and her teachings, butt also a proposed “attitude” of “welcoming.” So as to not infringe on the perceptions of those who first choose the attitude of feeling excluded.

      An attitude about an attitude? What, then, about sacramental Eucharistic coherence within the Mystical Body of Christ?

      Why not “welcome” to the Communion procession (or assembly line?), better-organized polygamists and binary cohabitors as add-ons to the alphabetical interest group? First, civil unions, then gay marriage, and now back to “unsettled” blessings only, and then whatever else is unsettled in the minds of Cardinal Hollerich & Co., e.g., a celibate priesthood.

      But again, about morality itself, what about the priority of an encyclical (Veritatis Splendor) over press conferences, attitudes, feelings and such—that is, the reality of moral absolutes (n. 115), and limits of pastoral accommodation (n. 56), and the fact the Church is not the author or arbiter of the innate natural law (n. 95)? What, finally, about the slippery slope, and street smarts, and possibly a spinal implant?

      “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us” (1 John 2:19).

    • “And, to notice that Mexico was dumped in the same apple barrel as North America to be one of the seven “continental assemblies” for the convoluted Synod on Synodality.”

      I’m sure you know already that Mexico is a part of North America? Or perhaps you were saying something related to that?

      • Mexicans do not believe that North America is a continent, but a region that generally excludes them. They follow the five-continent system of the Olympic rings. A _norteamericano_ is what we in the United States of America would simply call an American. Their continent is _América_, not “the Americas.” (NAFTA is the only exception to this usage that I can think of, translated as _América del norte_.) The Mexican bishops are generally grouped with the rest of Latin America.

        • Geographically Mexico is considered to be a part of North America & yes, we’re all “Americans” both North, Central, & South alike.
          Not so very long ago Mexico extended into what’s now the US. There are ranches along the AZ/Sonora border that were cut in half. And of course, Texas, CA, etc…The border has moved but the history, culture, & DNA are still there.

  3. ‘The work [statue] “disturbs simple people” the cardinal told the press’.
    There’s plenty in this article to disturb “simple people”. I’m with them.

  4. In a so called “democracy “ it seems that winner takes all. Each new administration try’s to clean house and impose its “mandate” on all. It a never ending sea saw that never ends. Perhaps we as Catholic Christians, get too much involved in this political process to the neglect of our spiritual priorities: walking the walk and talking the talk in word and deed. We spend too much trying to change institutions and laws and too little on changing ourselves and helping others to change themselves. Neither Jesus nor the Apostles said anything about trying to either oppose or change evil Rome or the laws or practices of the society that they lived in. They acknowledged the right of these evil men to conduct government as they saw fit and acknowledged their responsibility to pay required taxes.

  5. “The newspaper declared that transgender people have a “brain that recognizing itself has having a gender that doesn’t correspond to its biology,” adding that “the variation in the brain of a Trans and Gender Diverse person is not a pathology. In 2015, the World Health Organization recognized that being trans is not an illness, nor needs a cure.””

    This paragraph well represents the profound loss of the sense of the spiritual realm even among the ranks of the Catholic hierarchy and in other portions of the Church. There is nothing here, nor in many other statements, that even begin to factor in the realm of spiritual temptations and other spiritual influences that affect human perceptions (i.e. the human brain) and understandings (i.e. the human mind). They have totally accepted an entirely material (i.e. biological) model of the human being in which the biological being is the source of all its own thoughts and understandings. If this state of thinking in the hierarchy and clergy is widespread, then there is no hope of a reversal anytime soon, for the cure that is needed is spiritual as well as psychological. These afflicted folks have been misled in their understandings not only by the demons that have access to the minds of all of us, but the demonic forces, i.e. principalities and powers, that affect nations. I hesitate to say it, but it would not surprise me, if this continues, that the good Lord saw the best path forward to be one similar to that inflicted upon Sodom and Gomorrah. He will put a stop to it one way or another to prevent the continuing moral destruction of the innocent if the Church will not stand against that destruction itself. It does give me hope that a little pushback against the archdiocesan articles had a positive effect, as did a little effort in pushing back against Budweiser and Target in the US, so we should not lose hope yet.

  6. Hard not to be very saddened by all this.
    Terribly disturbing that the Mexican government doesn’t enforce its laws against the drug cartels but finds it so easy to do so against the Church, especially when helped by comments from Francis, the Apostolic Nuncio and certain quisling member of the hierarchy.
    By their fruits you shall know them.

      • No one without a death wish goes after cartels in Mexico. Cartels mostly stay clear of CDMX & don’t mess with the federal govt. But it varies in other Mexican states.
        Really it’s a tragedy all around & we’re the cartels’ customers, enabling the violence. No one has clean hands in this.

  7. Our Lady told Sr Lucy that the final battle between God and Satan will be over the family and marriage, so we should not be surprised when previously staunch Catholic countries are attacked. The Katechon is slowing being removed.

  8. As the church loses her way and gives in to the spirit of the world, the world suffers and declines. I think we can all agree this is the case. When the pope loses his way, advises error and what is not Catholicism, not the Gospel, not the Great Commission, it is only going to go one way, down. Francis has one job, to defend the faith, and pass it along intact to the next generation. Help souls obtain salvation. That is his job. He has not done it, he has in fact actively done the opposite. Now the world is groaning and misery is everywhere.
    The Traditional Latin Rite continues to offer Catholicism unbridled. Catholics need to find it. The more Francis goes after it the more Catholics should realize, it is Truth he is banning, it is the Gospel, it is the Great Commission, it is Love Himself, Jesus Christ, that is so offensive to Rome. Find it, stick to it, don’t let go, no matter what.

  9. When Francis characterized concern for abortion as an “obsession” early in his pontificate, he was speaking frankly and unambiguously. A long time later, he spoke of abortion again with an insensitive politician’s statement, something a thoughtful and caring pro-lifer would never say. We don’t beat up on aborted women by accusing them of hiring hitmen. But manipulative politicians, convinced they need to cover themselves make silly statements. Then a man like Francis slips by saying such things like although abortion is bad, the unborn should not be regarded as actual persons because, after all, there are those who will refuse to accept the idea, like secular elites, whom he respects with as much passion as he has contempt for Catholics who are Catholic. I knew early with the “obsession” comment that he did not have a Catholic mind, and his pontificate would be a disaster. Nothing has really surprised me since. His constant refusal to affirm Catholic values are worse than innocent ignorance. They reflect a deep-rooted hostility to the very idea of a divinely endowed plan for how we ought to order our lives, instead preferring social management by elitists.

  10. I believe that the homosexuals in the clergy want the Church to recognize homosexual activity as acceptable behavior, not to be considered immoral or sinful. I think that the coming synod will try to advance that concept. This is why the pope and a number of bishops, those whom I believe to be mostly homosexuals, attack and wish to destroy Catholic Tradition. Homosexual behavior will never be condoned by the Church as long as our Sacred Tradition is preserved.
    I believe this synod should not take place. Not only is it a waste of time, but more importantly, it will threaten the True Catholic Faith. It will only produce more confusion and chaos, and further divide the Church into more factions.

  11. In June I was received into the Catholic church. What a wonderful conversion I was 50 years in the evangelical non-denominational, charismatic church. I regret that I came in under Francis. I do not like him, and personally I think he is a wolf, can I say that, maybe I still have some of that rebel Protestantism in me.

  12. The article and vast majority of the comments are about pelvic issues, Mexico has a lot of poverty and perhaps a discussion about that might be in order?

    • Those who refer to fornication, homosexuality, pornography, masturbation, cohabitation, lust, adultery, impurity, abortion, contraception, etc. as “pelvic issues,” cannot and should not be taken seriously when it comes to moral matters.

        • “So all there is to morality is sex?”

          Not what I said. Not even close. Learn to read.

          “More right wing claptrap.”

          How so? Learn to engage without resorting to stupid political remarks.

          “Read the Gospels.”

          That’s funny. And ignorant. You’re batting .000.

          “Stop worshiping Donald Trump.”

          More slanderous trolling. Get a clue.

          • Looks like I hit a nerve. It seems that you fancy yourself as some sort of “intellectual.” You simply parrot right wing talking points. How sad.

          • You make a lot of strange assumptions based on just as strange perceptions. My comments are not “right wing”; they are those of an orthodox Catholic. What’s truly sad is that you think solely in terms of crude politics. Goes along well with your crude understanding of morality.

        • No. I’m not. The dominant culture surely is. And responses are needed.

          You seem fixated on making light of serious sin by using the infantile term “pelvic issues.”

        • Yo, William, some have framed the question as so as to actually replace the Commandments with the Beatitudes. This was even an early agenda by some in preparing the new Catechism (1992, English in 1994).

          Glad to see this is not the case here. And, about which, this, from St. John Paul II in an encyclical (more than an airplane interview): “…the commandment of love of God and neighbor does not have in its dynamic any higher limit, but it does have a lower limit, beneath which the commandment is broken” (Veritatis Splendor, n. 52).

          So, yes, we are all free to labor the obvious, that there are Ten Commandments—even including the Eighth…Butt about your trivialized “pelvic issues,” how about this insight into the loss of purity:

          “The modern world will shortly no longer possess sufficient spiritual reserves to commit genuine evil. Already . . . we can witness a lethal slackening of men’s conscience that is attacking not only their moral life, but also their very heart and mind, altering and decomposing even their imagination . . . The menacing crisis is one of INFANTILISM” (Interview with Samedi-Soir, Nov. 8, 1947, cited in Hans Urs von Balthasar, “Bernanos: An Ecclesial Existence,” Ignatius, 1996, p. 457, caps added).

    • I suppose hunger and malnutrition due to poverty could be considered gastric issues?

      Mexico is no longer considered a “Third World ” nation. They have done quite quite well economically. Mexican wages are low compared to the US but living costs are lower also.
      Cartels are really more the pressing problem currently and we are the cartels’ biggest client.

  13. I see you deleted my comments to give yourself the last word. You are a right wing pseudo intellectual afraid of any real debate.

      • Sins of the flesh are indeed a problem, and should be addressed. That said, there are other sins that need attention, such as cheating the poor. Perhaps you are aware of this, but most ofthe comments do seem to focus on gays, transgender foolishness, etc.

        Poverty is a serious problem. It needs to be addressed. Your insults do not bother me. I can read and trying to address the issue of hungry children is hardly infantile. Am I defending fornication, transgenderism and other foolishness? No. They are wrong. I am tired of hearing about them. We need to address other issues as well, especially caring for poor children.

  14. Homosexual unions determined as a right as held by Pope Francis references an assumed political right, not a moral right. He’s obligated to represent the Church instituted by Christ, not simply by title, rather by unambiguous doctrinal fidelity.
    Whether a political party even if supported by a national referendum endorses homosexual unions, using the word marriage, that remains a grievous abrogation of divine law to which political law should be subservient – on essential moral issues that define our humanness. Pope Francis is obliged to cease dropping his bombs of mass destruction on humanity, and mercifully allow Mexico to recover from this anti doctrinal warfare – to act and speak with consistency like Christ’s vicar.

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