Since the Catholic Church’s inception in Mexico by the Spanish conquistadors of 1519, Mexico has been tied to Catholicism. Though the Mexican government and Catholic Church have been quarreling for years, as of the 1990s, due to President Carlos Salinas, the two have partially reconciled, allowing for more freedoms of the Church such as voting and becoming involved in political discussions. In order to be affiliated with the people of Mexico, the Church uses Catholic social teaching. Catholic social teaching aids the Church in its attempts to provide better relations with not only the people and the Mexican government, but for Mexican citizens and other nations. The influence of Catholic social teaching with regards to issues concerning unity has been successful while it has been unsuccessful in political viewpoints and immigration.
One aspect of society in which the Church is influential is that of unity. The Church states: “Human beings grow and achieve fulfillment in community. Human dignity can only be realized and protected in the context of relationships with the wider society” ("Major Themes"). Thus, unity leads the masses to realize and understand human dignity. The Church has been able to achieve this realization through the Virgin of Guadalupe. “The Virgin of Guadalupe remains one of the nation’s cherished symbols” (Stecklein), ever since her appearance in 1531. Such an image has united the people through their focus on this symbol, bringing people together to celebrate it: “Catholics from as far away as Perryton, Spearman and Borger united Sunday in hopes of teaching others and honoring the woman who helped convert thousands to Christianity during a turbulent period in Mexico's history” (Stecklein). Through a patriotic and religious sense of unity, the Virgin of Guadalupe has brought people together to commemorate her and her actions. Surely this has been a cause for “Mexico’s overwhelming Catholic populace (about 90 percent)” (Corcoran). The Church, in its efforts to unite the people under Catholic social teaching, has succeeded and continues to be a factor in the lives of Mexicans.
The Church’s efforts in political affairs with the Mexican government have been unsuccessful with regards to subsidiarity. The Church’s teaching of subsidiarity is that “when the needs in question cannot adequately be met at the lower level, then it is not only necessary, but imperative that higher levels of government intervene” ("Major Themes"). However, the Mexican government has failed in providing such aid in terms of a pro-abortion law: “A proposal before the Mexico City legislature would allow births to be terminated virtually for any reason at all in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. With the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) firmly in control of the legislature, the law seems certain to pass” (Corcoran). The Church has tried to intervene in the issue, with figures as prominent as Mexico City Archbishop Cardinal Norberto Rivera stating: “‘Laws, whatever they are, are intended to respect life. A law that does not is ungodly’” (Corcoran). Yet, it is inevitable that the Church should fail if even the people themselves are willing to abide to this law: “Polls show that more than half the capital’s inhabitants, and an overwhelming majority of its women, are in favor of the bill” (Corcoran). Thus, though the Church has played a role in attempting to be pro-life, it has failed in its attempts, yet continues to persevere.
The issue of immigration is an act the Church continues to persevere and influences the governments of the United States and Mexico. “The right to migrate springs from three separate principles in Catholic social teaching: the right of a family to sustenance, the priority of the family over the state, and the right of economic initiative” (Yuengert). In Mexico, issues such as NAFTA involvement in farms and drug cartels and crimes has led Mexican citizens in search of better lives elsewhere, mainly in the United States. Yet, this tends to be illegal with respect to government laws:
“The right of a person to migrate conflicts with the duty to obey the laws of the country in which he or she lives. In reflecting on the Federal requirement that the state of California and the city of Los Angeles provide welfare benefits and education to illegal immigrants, a case can be made that poor Mexicans who remain in Mexico have a greater claim on the resources of the state and city than those who immigrate illegally, since Mexican non-immigrants are probably as needy, and they at least are not violating United States law” (Yuengert).
Thus, though the Church accepts such actions as satisfactory, it does so with respect to laws. The Church continues to be an advocate of migration, stating that the people should be allowed to move across borders without hindrance. However, laws placed by governments are placed in a higher category than the doctrines of the Church, as people are continuously penalized for crossing borders, regardless of the viewpoints of the Church: “Although he [Pope John Paul II] states clearly that ‘illegal immigration should be prevented,’ thereby implying that states have a right to enforce restrictions on migration, he just as clearly states that illegal immigrants should be provided with ’the necessary means of subsistence’” (Yuengert). The Church, in its attempts of migration, is thwarted by governments that even the Pope views as being allowed to pass laws subjugating the movements of people illegally into other countries.
Catholic social teaching is prevalent throughout Mexico, yet has succeeded in only uniting the people, while failing in terms of politics and immigration. The Church continues to persevere for its place in society as one fighting for good causes. The role of the Mexican government and people, however, has been a contributing factor as to why the Church has not prevailed. As the Church continues on its quest to find methods to become involved in aspects of Mexican citizens, it flourishes and falls in different parts even with the use of Catholic social teaching.
Corcoran, Patrick. "A Decline in Catholic Church Influence in Mexico." MexiData.info. Google, 16 Apr. 2007. Web. 16 May 2011. <http://mexidata.info/id1326.html>.
"Major Themes." Catholic Charities' Office for Social Justice. Sowers of Justice. Web. 16 May 2011. <http://www.osjspm.org/major_themes.aspx>.
Stecklein, Janelle. "Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration: Unity the Common Thread." Amarillo. Yahoo!, 7 Dec. 2009. Web. 16 May 2011. <http://amarillo.com/stories/120709/new_news1.shtml>.
Yuengert, Andrew M. "Catholic Social Teaching on the Economics of Immigration." Journal of Markets & Morality 3, No. 1 (2000): 88-99. Act On. Center for Economic Personalism, Spring 2000. Web. 16 May 2011. <http://www.acton.org/sites/v4.acton.org/files/pdf/mm-v3n1-yuengert.pdf>.