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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