Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Role of Catholic Social Teaching in Mexico

Since its beginnings with Hernan Cortes, Mexico has remained a strong Catholic country that relies heavily on religious intervention to determine aspects of social life. However as poverty has worsened within the country, so has corruption. Drug cartels, big businesses, and the lack of clean drinking water have all done heavy damage to the country’s economy and the morale of the people. The biggest hope for the infringed Mexican people is Catholic Social Teaching, which has focused on the improvement of the lives and dignity of the poor, workers, and all others who remain vulnerable within society. Being a predominantly Catholic country, Mexico has not only used Catholic Social Teaching as a motivator for social improvements, but it has also used CST to inspire Catholic relief organizations and political leaders to get involved. With the help of effective relief organizations, Mexico hopes to continue to revive its principles of freedom, justice, and peace.

            By integrating with smaller Mexican organizations, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has aimed at applying the major themes of Catholic Social teaching to improve every day conditions for Mexican people. For example, the Caritas Mexicana-Social Pastoral Commission has “trained the 82 Catholic dioceses to respond to issues of social injustice” (“Giving Hope to a World of Need”). They have addressed every issue from natural disasters to the lack of adequate education to raise awareness within the country. Other organizations such as the Mixteca Center for Integral Peasant Development and Frente Democratico Compensino have attempted to establish low-cost agricultural systems while providing farmers with the proper loans and skills to manage new techniques aimed at preserving the land. These organizations have already touched the lives of over 16,000 and “conducted extensive reforestation efforts, that dramatically transformed eroded areas of the region” (“Giving Hope to a World of Need”). The CRS has also joined with certain dioceses like the Labor Rights Apostolate to defend workers’ rights and to ensure both just wages and safe working conditions for Mexican employment.

            In addition to providing different services and organizations, other groups like the Knights of Columbus in Mexico have verbally defended Mexican freedom. One member said, “Mexico is a free, plural, and democratic country where persons and institutions have the right and duty to express their opinions on issues that have to do with national public life” (“Catholic News Agency”). The Knights proclaimed a culture’s need to support the marginalized and vulnerable in society. Understanding that the country is largely Catholic, the Knights prayed for just actions by priests and churches that would strengthen the Church in its fight for peace. By continuing to support Mexican bishops’ call for freedom, the Knights are contributing to the gradually developing relationship where both the government and the people are supporting one another. Catholic Social teaching has motivated the Knights of Columbus to speak in defense of human dignity. Furthermore, the Knights encouraged Mexico to move away from “a culture of death so that everyone might have life in abundance, from conception to natural death” (“Catholic News Agency”).

            Despite major corruption within large businesses and smaller drug cartels, Catholic Social Teaching still holds a significant role within politics. The morals it instills have attracted other political leaders such as the United States’ Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, to use religious enthusiasm to support her own intentions for Mexican judicial reform. Catholic Online has acknowledged Clinton’s acts as morally inspired acts because of persistence and $500 million contribution in funds towards Mexico (“Catholic Online”). Despite an increase in killings and a decrease in public support of military acts on drug cartels, Clinton has continued to back up President Calderon in her determined assistance for the common good of Mexico. Clinton is following the third major theme of CST – Rights and responsibilities – that says “Out of responsibility for the common good, governments must regulate rights in particular instances” (Daoust, 63).

            Although corruption exists within large industries and government, Catholicism has remained a constant hope for the Mexican people. Catholic Social Teaching has established morals and values for Mexico, and now serves as the main motivation for reform in the region. Organizations interested in an improved life for Mexicans have worked alongside these people to prevent injustice in every aspect of society. The CRS has affiliated itself with smaller partners to make the Mexican people aware of the problems in society and train them to solve these problems. Hilary Clinton and the Knights of Columbus also defended Mexican freedom in the movement towards reform. Catholic Social Teaching has not only driven organizations abroad to step in for change, but it also helped to unify the Mexican people. Mexicans can use the major themes of Catholic Social Teaching as the goals that they aspire for in their country.

Works Cited

Online, Catholic. "Mexico must reform judicial system, Secretary Clinton says - International - Catholic Online." Catholic Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=40095>.

"Knights of Columbus support Mexican bishops' freedom of expression :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)." Catholic News Agency. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/knights-of-columbus-support-mexican-bishops-freedom-of-expression/>.

Mexico | Catholic Relief Services ." Catholic Relief Services. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://crs.org/mexico/partners.cfm>.

Windley Daoust, Jerry. Living Justice and Peace: Catholic Social Teaching. 2nd ed. Saint Mary's Press, 2008. Print.


Brian Feliciano


  1. The Catholic organizations bring new light to how the Church makes use of them to provide Catholic social teaching. They provide relief efforts in areas where the government has not or will not step in. Hillary Clinton's actions, though not performed due to the demands of the Church, demonstrates a form of Catholic social teaching, rights and responsibilities to be exact.

    Yet, though it can be seen as to why and how these actions of the organizations and Hillary Clinton come to existence, there is no evaluation of the effectiveness of their tactics. Whether what they are doing in Mexico is truly aiding the Mexican citizens is not brought up, even though how they do it is. For instance:

    "On the Mexican side, thanks to improved intelligence and targeting, nearly two dozen high-level traffickers have been captured or killed just in the past year. On the U.S. side, the FBI just arrested the largest number of mafia members in history in January. In addition, the U.S. Treasury Department has designated nearly eight-hundred businesses and individuals associated with drug kingpins" ("Clinton In Mexico | Editorials | Editorial").

    Thus, if this were used to support the argument, it would make it more plausible and difficult to refute.

    In addition, the notion of unity, internal political disputes, and immigration are never discussed. These are key issues that Catholic social teaching revolves around. Unity deals with the common good and community, internal political disputes with subsidiarity, and immigration with "the right of a family to sustenance, the priority of the family over the
    state, and the right of economic initiative" (Yuengert 89). Such issues can not go unwarranted and require further evaluation to deepen the understanding of the role of Catholic social teaching in Mexico and its effects and effectiveness on the people.

    "Clinton In Mexico | Editorials | Editorial." News | English. Broadcasting Board of Governors, 29 Jan. 2011. Web. 17 May 2011. http://www.voanews.com/policy/editorials/Clinton-In-Mexico-114916559.html.

    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.

    Paul Popa

  2. I strongly agree with the discussion of the role of the CRS in assisting relief groups in providing assistance for Mexicans and with the vocalization of Catholic Social Teaching through the Knights of Columbus. The actions of CRS support groups are well supported and used to show how the teachings of Catholicism are put into use and applied to society and programs to aid the needy of society. The values of the Church are then verbally expressed by the Knights of Columbus, speaking out to turn Mexico away from a culture of death and towards life and peace.
    However, I do not feel that Clinton was a relevant point to the essay. To say that she is supporting Mexico due to Catholic Social Teaching seems like a stretch, considering her powerful position as United State’s Secretary of State. Her motives were most likely unrelated to Catholicism. While she has done much good, it would be difficult to prove that Clinton has any relation to the role of Catholicism in Mexico, and this essay has not proven this.

    Vincent Viola

  3. Because of the United States' need to intervene in Mexico for the common good, the strong North American country has experienced tremendous backlash and resentment from those involved in the Mexican drug war. However, even after the death of two American citizens, the United States still decided security was the top priority in their mission, not retaliation.

    "That concern sharpened after the shooting deaths this month of two US citizens in the violent Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, an attack that raised the question of what Washington could do to bolster security without being seen as interfering in Mexico's internal affairs" ("Hillary Clinton visits Mexico"). It is important to remember that this is not the United States battle, but rather Mexico's internal battle against drug cartels. Catholic Online recognized Clinton for her responsibilities for the good of another country. The United States feels somewhat to blame for the high interest in purchasing these drugs from Mexico. This is why Clinton is so concerned with establishing a "21st Century border" that can promote security, trade and movement between the two neighbors"("Hillary Clinton visits Mexico").

    The question specifically asks for the role and effectiveness of Catholic Social Teaching in the lives of the Mexican people. Any issues discussed are simply examples used to defend the position. The focus has been placed predominantly on Catholic relief organizations' reactions to the issues within Mexico, not the issues themselves. It fairly showcases the direction that I believe Mexico is headed because of these programs - and that is towards improvement and an increase in religious influence on politics.

    Refer to: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/mexico/7508851/Hillary-Clinton-visits-Mexico-as-drug-related-death-toll-soars.html

    The Telegraph News

    Brian Feliciano

  4. This author has skillfully applied the principles of Catholic Social Teaching to Mexican society in these times. While Catholic Relief Services may not have addressed “every” issue that has beset Mexico, this organization has done a great amount of good for the people who sorely needed a positive guiding force. The relationship that Church affiliates such as the Knights of Columbus are forging will be very important in the coming years, since such connections will yield positive improvements for the Mexican people. There are some political leaders within Mexico that uphold the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, who are able to make a difference in their communities. However, there will be significant improvement when even more politicians begin to implement the use of these key values.

    There is most definitely still room for improvement; however, since many Mexicans still lack the benefits that are produced by religion- based social programs. Additionally, programs that promote the principles of Catholic Social Teaching have yet to affect the way in which many political leaders and business powers treat Mexicans. Until these issues are addressed, there will still be a lack of Catholic values due to the continual oppression that the Mexican people face in light of the abrasive force of the Mexican government and the abusive economic tyrants in the world.

    Liz Newton

  5. This essay was well written and supported by solid evidence. It highlighted Catholic Social Teaching in all aspects of Mexico from helping the poor to government. But there was one point irrelevant to the topic. The issue of Hilary Clinton being involved with US-Mexico affairs goes off topic from Mexico. Yes, Clinton was acting out Catholic Social Teaching by reaching out to Mexico. These are the efforts of the United States in resolving the issue but what has Mexico itself done to help the issue?

    Jenna Anne Chan

  6. Because the Mexican people have such a great enthusiasm with their religion, they will continue to support the organizations that are providing them with benefits. Together with funds from organizations and the support of the people, Mexico will begin to gradually move toward overall improvement. The issue with Hillary Clinton does hold relevance because she is acting out for the common good of the Mexican people despite the fact that this issue only minimally affects the United States. She feels it is her right to act for Mexico's betterment.

    Brian Feliciano

  7. This is something completely different, but can someone tie catholicism and coca-cola together for me?