Jorge Volpi on Secularlism, the Church, and Mexico

El País has an interesting article from Jorge Volpi on secularism in Mexico. Normally I wouldn’t note a strictly policical article, but it seems to me from what little I’ve read that Volpi makes a good historian and cultural critic to the detriment of his fiction. In the article, he compares the polarizing effects of religion in politics in the US, Spain, and Mexico. Here is his brief history of the issue in Mexico.

Since the middle of the 19th century, Mexico has been characterized by possessing one of the most secular governments on the planet. The Laws of Reform separated the state from the church and confined the later to the private sphere of citizens. Without a doubt, one can blame an infinite number of defects on the Mexican government that have happened since, but secularism is one of its few genuine achievements, which permitted the development of a society more open and less dependent on the otherworldly blackmail. But in 1992, in a move to form new alliances,  President Carlos Salinas de Gortari decided to reestablish relations between Mexico and the Vatican, and since this moment the Catholic Church pressed to regain its role as the guardian of conscience and began to express itself each time more emphatically over public matters.

Desde mediados del siglo XIX, México se había caracterizado por poseer uno de los regímenes laicos más sólidos del planeta: las Leyes de Reforma separaron al Estado de la Iglesia y confinaron a esta última a la esfera privada de los ciudadanos. Sin duda se les puede achacar una infinita cantidad de defectos a los Gobiernos mexicanos que se sucedieron desde entonces, pero el laicismo es uno de sus pocos logros inequívocos, pues permitió el desarrollo de una sociedad más abierta y menos dependiente de los chantajes ultraterrenos. Pero en 1992, en un intento por conseguir nuevas alianzas, el presidente Carlos Salinas de Gortari decidió reestablecer las relaciones entre México y el Vaticano y, desde ese momento, la Iglesia católica se apresuró a retomar su papel de guardián de las conciencias y comenzó a opinar de manera cada vez más enfática sobre asuntos de interés público.

His point, which isn’t too surprising, is that religion should stay out of politics and that secular parties should strive to insure the liberty that comes from secularism.

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