Mexico: A Reprieve for the Church

Legislators finally bow to reality and vote to end more than a century of often brutal anticlerical policies

In even the tiniest, most impoverished towns of Mexico, the Roman Catholic churches are invariably well swept, well appointed and well attended. Yet despite the evident pride Mexicans take in their religion -- 90% of the country's 86 million people are Catholic -- church institutions have been restrained since the 19th century by some of the toughest anticlerical laws anywhere. Restrictions enacted in 1857 dismantled church properties. Sixty years later, after an outbreak of violence by Catholic guerrillas, the government responded with not only more property seizures but the massacre of priests. Through it all, the Catholic Church has maintained its...

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