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The Mexican Case: Doctrinally Oriented

The Mexican Case: Doctrinally Oriented

(p.133) 4 The Mexican Case: Doctrinally Oriented
The Catholic Social Imagination
Joseph M. Palacios
University of Chicago Press

On 1 December 2000, with the first peaceful and transparent multiparty presidential election in Mexican history, the country began the transición (transition) from almost seventy years of single-party rule by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party) to a future that is as yet unclear. The winner, Vicente Fox of the Partido Acción Nacional (National Action Party), won a clear mandate in every state of the republic. What role will religion play in Mexico's changing political and social culture? In Mexico, the opportunities for constructing a Catholic social justice milieu are often hidden; it is the constraints that are most apparent, particularly federal laws constraining the Church. Moreover, a very conservative Catholic hierarchy trained in Roman seminaries and universities has historically constrained the development of Mexican theological investigation, lay leadership, and social programs. During three years of travel and field study in urban Mexico, the author found many active Catholics, disillusioned Catholics, and even secular Mexicans trying to find openings for the Church to enter the public life of their country. This chapter highlights these openings and analyzes how the Catholic actors of the transición are attempting to construct a Catholic social justice cultural milieu, despite the Church's historic conflicts with the state, its social conservatism, and its ultramontane perspectives.

Keywords:   Catholics, social justice, social conservatism, political transition

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