Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Catholic Social Teaching in Mexico

    Catholicism, being the dominant religion in Mexico, impacts the daily lives of its people. Mexico is constantly going through trials and tribulations, with rising poverty rates and growing population of drug lords and gangs. The people of Mexico rely on the teachings of the Catholic Church to guide them and influence their perspectives on these issues. Amid all of the turmoil and troubles surrounding the country, Catholic Social Teaching can be seen in Mexico through aid with poverty, violence prevention, and state control.

    As Mexico’s economy is spiraling down, Catholic charities try to provide for the poor. More and more Mexicans are left with no opportunities for education and leaving them jobless, homeless, and without food.
    “The statistics are truly staggering - according to the World Bank, 53 percent of Mexico’s population is poor (living on less than $2 per day), while close to 24 percent is extremely poor (living on less than $1 per day).  According to a recent  Bread for the World report, 5.1 million Mexicans are undernourished and 18%  of all children under the age of 5 suffer from stunting.  Malnutrition and hunger are very real problems for many of the families living in Mexico today” (Charity:Catholic World Mission is Mexico)
For the common good of society, the Church teaches that the community must help their most vulnerable members. All Catholics are called to reach out to the poor because their pain impacts the community.
    “A consistent theme of Catholic social teaching is the option or love of preference     for the poor. Today, this preference has to be expressed in worldwide dimensions, embracing the immense numbers of the hungry, the needy, the homeless, those without medical care, and those without hope” (Soclicitudo Rei Socialis Official     Text).
Catholic charities throughout Mexico are hard at work trying to end poverty and hunger. One in particular, Catholic World Mission, created Mano Amiga Nutrition Program, which strives to feed and help undernourished children and their families in Puebla, Mexico.  This program will help these children to work productively in school and aid their families in attaining a stable living. Catholic Social Teaching not only plays a role on the welfare of the poor, but in the issues surrounding the safety of the people.

    As violence grows in Mexico due to drugs and gangs, bishops of Mexico and the people band together to promote peace. “Fifteen people were shot dead in separate incidents in a single day in the northern Mexican border state of Nuevo Leon, as the country's wave of drug violence showed no sign of ebbing” (AFP: Fifteen Killed in Mexico Violence). Catholic Social Teaching promotes peace and acting together as a community. The Bishops’ Conference of Mexico issued a statement calling all Mexican Catholics to work together and pray for end to violence in the country.
     “The bishops said that now “is an appropriate time to give thanks to God for the gifts the Lord has granted to our homeland.”  They also urged the faithful “to call for a recognition of the injustices that have been committed," to remember those "who have died from the violence and to renew our commitment to a Mexico of  peace and justice.” The bishops ended their message urging Mexican Catholics to pray that “we, as a nation, might achieve peace and cultivate the great ideals of  our forefathers."(Bishops Encourage Efforts to End Violence in Mexico).
Catholic Social Teaching sets up a standard moral code for the Mexicans and helps them to recognize the injustice in society. In order to provide a healthy living environment. Catholics are trying to ensure a world of peace rather than violence.

    With all of the violence and poverty accumulating in Mexico, the government tries to attain control and assume their role. According to Catholic Social Teaching, government’s role in the community is to protect the rights of the people and provide for the people. In Mexico, the government is starting to regulate the state with hopes of ending poverty,  removing gangs and stopping the violence. Despite their good intentions, the government is using excessive force on the people in attempt to control them.
    “Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez of Tuxtla, Mexico recently warned that the government should not regulate everything, but rather act with generosity and service toward those who suffer most”  (Mexican Bishop Highlights Importance     of Love, Warns of Excessive State Control).
Working against the people and trying to restrict them will only cause more tension. The effectiveness of Catholic Social Teaching in the lives of the Mexicans is that it sets up the roles of the community.
    “The teachings of the Church insist that government has a moral function: protecting human rights and securing basic justice for all members of the commonwealth. Society as a whole and in all its diversity is responsible for building up the common good. But it is the government's role to guarantee the minimum conditions that make this rich social activity possible, namely, human rights and justice” (Major Themes).
Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez brings to light Catholic ideals towards the government and role in the community. Catholic Social Teaching recognizes the efforts of the government as a way to guide Mexicans in positive direction.

    Catholic Social Teaching affects Mexicans in the way they think and deal with problems in their country. With all of the poverty, Catholic charities are willing to help feed the hungry and give an option to the most poor and vulnerable. Catholic ideals are also reflected in role of the government and issues of drug violence. Catholic Social Teaching affects the lives of the Mexican people everyday by helping them thrive in the most important aspects of the community such as helping the poor, stopping violence, and recognizing the government‘s role.

"AFP: Fifteen Killed in Mexico Violence." Google. AFP, 12 May 2011. Web. 1 May 2011.                           <http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5igfEtiFAhPS3C-

"Bishops Encourage Efforts to End Violence in Mexico :: EWTN News." Catholic News from EWTN Catholic Television Network. Web. 15 May 2011. <http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/Americas.php?id=434>.

"Charity: Catholic World Mission in Mexico." Catholic.net - Catholics on the Net. Catholic.net, 4 Aug. 2008. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://www.catholic.net/index.php?option=dedestaca>.

"Mexican Bishop Highlights Importance of Love, Warns of Excessive State Control :: EWTN News." Catholic News from EWTN Catholic Television Network. Web. 15 May 2011. <http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/Americas.php?id=2637>.
Pope John Paull II. "Soclicitudo Rei Socialis Official Text." Catholic Charities' Office for Social Justice. Web. 15 May 2011. <http://www.osjspm.org/majordoc_soclicitudo_rei_socialis_official_text.aspx>.



  1. The question is addressed, but not to the extent necessary. Quotes and evidence are used to restate the modern day issues of Mexico and to state the Church’s beliefs with regard to its social teaching and how action should be taken. The focus of evidence should not be on what action the Church believes should be taken, but rather on what effect the Church’s actions and beliefs have already had on the lives of Mexicans. So while many important conflicts are addressed in this essay, and valid points are made as to how the situation would be handled should Catholic Social teaching be applied, there should be more emphasis on the effects that are already present in the society due to Catholicism and Catholic social teaching.
    With regards to the Church’s political influence in Mexico, this article:
    http://countrystudies.us/mexico/ could have been discussed or something along the lines of mentioning how the church has affected politics, such as working to get anti-clerical bans lifted and getting its voice heard once again among politicians. The post is filled with quotes and evidence but analyzed little, and holds little relevance to the question.

    Vincent Viola

  2. It is unclear in paragraph one of which position has been chosen to defend. It clearly states the horrific facts about poverty in Mexico; however, only one example has been provided to defend the position that Catholic Social Teaching holds a major role in solving the issue of poverty.
    It is important to understand that although the country is slowly making efforts to prevent violence, violence is still a major issue within Mexico. "More than 34,000 people have died in the past four years in drug-related murders" ("Catholic Online").
    Where is the force displayed in the Mexican government? President Calderon is working alongside the United States to end the corrupt business of drug cartels. In an effort to eliminate drug trafficking, President Calderon "has
    pledged to use extradition as a tool against drug traffickers, and sent 64 criminals to
    the United States as of August 2007, including the alleged head of the Gulf Cartel" (Cook). If anything, Calderon is using force against the drug cartels so as to bring about peace and just actions within Mexico.

    Refer to PDF File under: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL34215.pdf
    Written by Colleen W. Cook
    Analyst in Latin American Affairs

    Brian Feliciano

  3. With regards to the first body paragraph, although the aspect of Catholic social teaching is mentioned, it is not established as to how it plays a role in the lives of citizens. Rather, as stated, it is simply what needs to be understood and performed to end poverty. The second body paragraph is acceptable because in order for people to take action, they must first gather together and recognize the problems at hand. The third body paragraph is acceptable as well as it provides a moral and ethical need in government to assume proper authority and curtail violence and poverty. For instance, it does not take into account the lives it is killing through abortions. “‘Laws, whatever they are, are intended to respect life. A law that does not is ungodly’” (Corcoran). Thus, the government should follow a moral code of laws in order to better govern the people.

    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.

    Paul Popa

  4. Although it is important to note how much Catholic Social Teaching affects the Mexican population and how extreme the government acts in order to maintain peace amidst drug warfare. However, this essay lacks in-depth analysis about the major problem at hand. Catholic Social Teaching most definitely did not simply show people how to live; there needs to be someone teaching the Mexican people how they should go about living in a moral and acceptable manner.

    The Catholic charities discussed above can only do so much. Akin to the charity programs in the United States and in other countries, social wellness programs funded by the Church can be effective, but are limited financially. Oftentimes, such programs are volunteer-based and have the potential for failure when the funding and/or the volunteers diminish. The effectiveness of programs led by the Church is also determined by the community itself and how fervent or indifferent the leader of the parish is. Such factors demonstrate how principles of Catholic Social Teaching can be applied in areas such as Mexico. However, more importantly, there is little mention of how effective these programs are on a long-term basis.

    Liz Newton

  5. I gave examples of relevant issues going on in Mexico today with evidence from Catholic Social Teaching documents. I highlighted what the Church believes should be done because they are bringing attention to Catholic ideals and how Catholic Social Teaching should influence the people. With major problems like poverty and drug violence, I discussed how charities and predominant clergy leaders are speaking out against these issues using Catholic ideals. The basis of my essay was to highlight the mindset and influence that Catholicism has set on the people of Mexico.

    Jenna Anne Chan