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The Freemasonic participation in the French Revolution is usually well known by most traditionalists. However, it’s safe to say that the revolutions and wars south of the border are sometimes seen in a different light by these same traditionalists, especially in the Anglosphere.
Spanish Crown spreads Catholic civilization
To understand the very real diegeses and build-up towards the Mexican Revolution, we must go back to colonial times. Colonial time, when Mexico and nearly all of Central and South America, once belonged to the kingdom of Spain and was a viceroyalty. At its greatest extent, the Spanish Empire compromised land nearly from Pole to Pole spanning its territory over six continents. Truly the first global empire, the Spanish Empire became known as “the empire on which the sun never sets” a term later coined for an equally administratively impressive British Empire.
During these times, Mexico was governed by a viceroy who was appointed by the King of Spain to rule in his name and under his authority and power. The Catholic Church back in Rome was then able to conduct its mission of evangelization and pastoral care of it’s newly found subjects of New Spain; the Amerindians and Mestizos (Children of Europeans & Amerindians) with the support, encouragement, and protection of the Spanish Crown. Spanish cultural and administrative rule flourished with the Catholic care of the new world, literally birthing a new race, culture, and with it the evangelization of millions of souls.
Of course, not all was fine and shire-like within the Spanish colonial systems. Many cultural conflicts erupted into savagery during the early exploration phase. Two worlds colliding, one under the pressures of these unknown and dangerous lands inhabited by unknown “barbaric” peoples, while the other side saw these conquistadors as invaders, indifferent to their pagan worldview. Yes, the colonial systems were put in place to enrich the Crown economically and expand the economy of the Spanish Empire, but the human suffering through wars and conflicts that resulted as these two worldviews clashed is no far cry to every single historical instance of different two empires clashing in a moment of history.
If truth be told, the Spanish conquests ended the ruthless, cannibalistic, pagan hegemony of the Aztec Empire and sparred the continued suffering of the Amerindian tribes. It is often left out of the revisionist history book that Cortes and his army was accompanied by 20,000 Amerindian warriors from Tlaxcala, Huexotzinco, and Cholula; the neighboring tribes that were the sacrificial subjects of the Aztec Empire during the siege of Teotihuacan. We address this part of Catholic history and more in another article. The wicked stories of pre-Christian Mexico can easily draw it’s modern comparisons to the atrocities happening today in Liberal Democratic Mexico by the Drug Cartels.
In reality, the Spanish rule in Latin America came not only to enrich the crown but to evangelize the newly gained subjects of the Church. Hernan Cortes would have gladly died for the salvation of the natives and oftentimes put his entire mission at risk to do so. In his last will, Cortés stated that he wanted the hospital to be built exclusively for the sons of the Aztec warriors who had perished in battle during the Conquest of Tenochtitlan.[i] The Church’s influence throughout New Spain was pervasive. The church was responsible for maintaining social services, such as health care and orphanages. It was in charge of the educational system, from primary school to the university level. The records of births, deaths, and marriages were the domain of the clergy. The church was a wealthy institution, thanks to the contributions from pious donors and the collection of an ecclesiastical tax known as the tithe. This prosperity allowed the church to become the primary lender for capitalist undertakings. The biggest component of the church’s wealth was its holdings in real estate. It is estimated that in 1700, the church-owned half of Mexico’s arable land. [i]
Protestant animosity spreads in war-torn Europe
As time passed, the Habsburg rulers of Spain considered the church a dominant branch of the government, interlocked with the colonial bureaucracy at every level. This time period was labeled by later Mexican conservatives as the “Golden Epoch,” where “humanity [had] reached its maximum creative capacity as a consequence of its ultimate union with divinity.”[i] Seething at the sight of the Spanish Crown’s rapid expansion, the Protestant “Spanish Black Legends” which consisted of anti-Spanish and Catholic propaganda started spreading rapidly in the early 16th century by the competing European explorers inspired by the mercantile opportunities. The propaganda was nothing more than a fierce proto-Liberal ideological attack with a Protestant stamp against the biggest power on Earth that was expanding Catholic Civilization. They came as no surprise, as the Protestant reformation sent Europe into religious wars for nearly a century. To this day, these black legends are regurgitated by academics both on the Left and Right letting their revisionist view of history be examined by the false stains by 16th-century propaganda.
As history continued and the Empire of New Spain developed, some of the native-born Mexicans of Spanish ancestry, known as criollos, now with firm roots going back generations and possible family members of mixed Mestizo ancestry, the feeling of independence of Spain started to manifest itself. This is where our story of Masonic subversion actually begins.
Mysterious expulsion of the Jesuits
The most controversial Bourbon act after replacing the Hapsburgs was the anti-clerical expulsion of the Jesuits from the Spanish colonies in 1767. The Bourbons, unlike the Habsburgs, did not trust the church nor see it as an equal partner. The Bourbons believed in the supremacy of civil over spiritual power and insisted that the church function as a puppet under their rule. [i] The Bourbons were not concerned with regulating the spirituality of the church. Instead, they wanted to end the church’s monopoly on land and property. To them, this powerful and wealthy order was seen as a “state within a state,” whose loyalties seemed more in line with the pope than the king. This same year in 1767, a Grand Lodge of Spain (Gran Logia Espanola) was formed, and Spanish Freemasonry declared itself independent from England. The first Grand Master was the Count of Aranda, Prime Minister of Charles III. It is also known that during the time, that many of the ministers of Charles III were Freemasons along with an impressive list of prominent Spanish nobles and high officials. [i] Mexican Historian, Jean Meyer affirms that the religious conflicts of the twentieth century can be stemmed from Bourbon liberal policies and the Catholic opposition to them. [i]
The Jesuits – much of whom were criollos – were then all expelled from the Spanish Empire by the late 18th C. Of the Jesuits who were expelled from New Spain, 75% were Mexican-born and many came from elite families. Although economically well off, the Jesuits followed their order’s instructions. One traditionalist theory floating around as to why they were suppressed and kicked out from the Americas is that according to Pope Clement XIV, by his papal brief Dominus ac Redemptor (21 July 1773) Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Jesuits, as a fait accompli because there had been a Masonic infiltration within the order back in Europe when the French controlled Spain. However, this is still speculative thought only curiously because there is no exact reason why they were suppressed within the papal brief. What is clearly known is that the expulsion of the Jesuits added gasoline to the animosity and discontent feelings growing amongst many criollos― many of who respect and loved the Jesuit order in Mexico.
We also believe this is the time when Freemasonry first entered Mexican soil, although the exact date is unknown and cannot just simply be determined to the date of the first Masonic lodge known publicly. Some say that it arrived with immigrants from France where the Grand Orient was very active. Through France, they migrated into Spain then crossed the pond to Mexico (from within the Spanish military ranks)[i] extending themselves into the ruling classes of the criollos. According to Mason Historian Luis J. Zalce, The first public Lodge known to exist in New Spain met at the shop of French watchmaker Juan Esteban Laroche in Mexico City, but they soon met resistance in Catholic New Spain and their Masonic cult was publicly condemned and arrested by the local Inquisition and ordered to desist while celebrating the Summer Solstice in 1791.[i] If the idea about the infiltration of the Jesuit order is true, the suppression efforts by the Church decades earlier may have been the reason they were kept at bay until the revolutionary spirit could not be contained any longer.
The Masonic mask is removed in New Spain
The next mention of Freemasonry in Mexico is in 1806. In this year, a Lodge was established in Mexico City in the residence of Don Manuel de Cuevas Moreno de Monroy Guerrero y Luyando in Calle de las Ratas (today Calle Bolívar).[i] Unfortunately, the archives of the Lodge were lost and its “columns” were destroyed between 1808 – 1809, and the name of the Lodge and other details are not known. The rite under which the Lodge worked is also not known, and there is no concrete basis that the lodge worked under the York Rite as commonly believed. With the dissolution of this Lodge, nothing positive is known of Mexican Masonry until 1813, when Spanish military forces were sent to Mexico in aid of her Viceroyalty. These forces officially introduced the Scottish Rite and established the first Lodges under that Rite in Mexico. This time, the liberal environment both in Spain and Mexico was much more relaxed and the Freemasons were allowed to operate freely. It is speculated that in the beginning, these Lodges were exclusive to only Spaniards and Criollos (Mexican born Spaniards) of noble lineage. This is very believable partly because most of Spain which was occupied by French troops in these very years, was also going through a liberal subversion of its own with the brief installment of the Spanish Constitution of 1812. For the next number of years, these Lodges met only in strict secrecy and they continued to subvert the ruling criollo class. This allowed the order to flourish among the political influencers in Mexico conveying the ideas of the enlightenment that dominated political and social thought in the late 18th century.
The Freemasons wasted no time, and in 1816 the York Rite (Grand Lodge of Louisiana) chartered Lodge “Amigos Reunidos No. 8” in Veracruz and, in 1817, “Reunida La Virtud No. 9” in Campeche. Although these lodges are presumed to not exist anymore, due to lack of records on what happened to them. Jose Maria Mateos, a leading Liberal politician of the late 19th century, stated in 1884 that some illustrious autonomists and independentists, such as Miguel Hidalgo, Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon, and Ignacio Allende, were Freemasons. According to Mateos, they were, for the most part, initiated in the lodge Arquitectura Moral (now Bolivar No. 73), but it is true that there are no documents to prove his point. However, there are documents that seem to prove that the first Governor of independent Mexico, the emperor Agustín de Iturbide, and the Dominican friar Servando Teresa de Mier, were both Freemasons. Even, Santa Ana who would participate in the Mexican Revolution of Independence initially on the Spanish and Royalist side, but then would defect to the Independence movement was a Freemason, being initiated in the Scottish Rite in 1825. [i]
In 1821, the Independence of Mexico established, the Lodges were able to meet again more freely, and little by little the Mexicans began to withdraw from the Spanish founded Lodges, forming their own Lodges directed by General Nicolas Bravo. Political parties had not yet formed at this time in Mexican history, and in their place, the political elites of the country were associated with two Masonic lodges, the centrist Scottish Rite (los escoseses) and the somewhat more liberal York Rite (los yorquinos). Nicolas Bravo was the Grand Master of the Scottish Rite lodge in Mexico between 1823 and 1827, a time when this lodge had captured most positions of political influence in the country. Over the course of 1827, however, the opposing York Rite Masons began to gain swiftly in power and influence. [i]
American Masonry crosses the border
John Roberts Pointsett arrived in the newly independent Mexico in 1822 and simultaneously served as a special envoy until 1823 when the government of then-President James Monroe became concerned about the stability of newly independent Mexico. The first Mexican revolution of independence in a way had left an administrative power vacuum as the Spanish withdrew the remaining military resources. Poinsett, a supporter of the Monroe Doctrine, was convinced that republicanism was the only guarantee of a peaceful, free form of government for North American countries, and tried to influence the government of Agustín de Iturbide, which was beginning to show signs of weakness and divisiveness.
Pointsett’s 1822 appointment was a very significant and influential development in the history of Freemasonry in Mexico. While Pointsett is informally more remembered for his introduction of the ‘Pointsettia‘ Christmas flower to the United States on his return from Mexico, it was his powerful York Rite Masonic connections that were allied to the political interests of the United States that are far less known. [i] Poinsett used his deep Masonic connections as a tool to aid the United State’s interventionist foreign policy in Mexico. This was the beginning of Freemasonry’s long, influential and not always benevolent involvement in Mexican politics, which continues freely to this day. It echoes the ironic, but accurate Mexican quote by Mexican Freemason Porfirio Diaz: “Mexico, tan lejos de Dios y tan cerca de Estados Unidos” ― Mexico, so far from God, yet so close to the United States.
Yet with Pointsett’s arrival in Mexico, the story of Freemasonry only becomes more complex, controversial and factional. Poinsett was a follower of the York Rite of Freemasonry; most others in Mexico were adherents of the Scottish Rite. These two groups often struggled against each other along political fault lines. The Scottish Rite Masons still hung over their Catholic heritage often supported the Church and its position and privileges and tend to be more “conservative”, monarchical although they considered themselves heirs of Spanish liberalism, whereas the York Rite Masons supported by Poinsett tended to have a more liberal political position, were republican in sentiment and were opposed to the Church and its influence. Over the course of 1827, however, the opposing York Rite Masons began to gain swiftly in power and influence. Nicolas Bravo, fearing that his side would lose its privileged position, Bravo led a military insurrection (known variously as the Revolution of Tulancingo, after the central Mexican town where it was centered, or the Revolt of Montaño, after a minor political figure who nominally headed it) against the York-controlled federal army. The rebellion was a fiasco; launched on 23 December 1827, it only attracted a few hundred rebels and fell apart when Bravo was captured on 7 January 1828. Despite calls for his execution, Bravo was exiled to Ecuador.
Speculative betrayal by Masonic Generals
According to the article A. Sanders, “La preuve par le Mexique,” by French newspaper Présent, July 19-22, The Texas Revolution and following Mexican-American War in the 1830’s was the synthesis of a betrayal by Masonic generals, such as Santa Ana Lopez, [i] the Mexican commander in the Texas Revolution.
While Santa Anna was captive in Texas, York Rite Freemason Joel Roberts Poinsett – U.S. minister to Mexico back in 1824 – offered a harsh assessment of General Santa Anna’s situation:
Say to General Santa Anna that when I remember how ardent an advocate he was of liberty ten years ago, I have no sympathy for him now, that he has gotten what he deserves.
To which Santa Anna replied:
Say to Mr. Poinsett that it is very true that I threw up my cap for liberty with great ardor, and perfect sincerity, but very soon found the folly of it. A hundred years to come my people will not be fit for liberty. They do not know what it is, unenlightened as they are, and under the influence of Catholic clergy, a despotism is a proper government for them, but there is no reason why it should not be a wise and virtuous one. [i]
The Texas Scottish Rite of Freemasonry confirmed in 2013 that Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Commander at the battle of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto, was a Scottish Rite Mason in Mexico. [i] The significance of this announcement in terms of Texas history stems from numerous reports that General Santa Anna saved himself from execution after being captured at the battle of San Jacinto in 1836 by giving secret Masonic distress signs to Texas soldiers and later to General Sam Houston, a well-known Mason. [i] However, there is no solid proof that this is why his life was spared that day.
Due to the outcome of the American invasion, Mexico lost its northern territory, California, Texas, New Mexico (1848), and was placed under United States political and economic hegemony for decades to come, culminating in the revolutions of the late 19th and early 20th century.
The first Mexican lodge
When political independence came about, the few existing lodges came out of hiding and multiplied. During this time the two Mexican Grand Lodges virtually represented the government and opposition parties. In 1825, several Scottish and York Rite Masons tried to form a lodge but received no support from their parent sects. They formed a convention and constituted a Grand Lodge, the Mexican National Rite. They initially allied himself politically with the York Rite and carried within itself the spirit of anti-clericalism. However, because of revolutions and a serious cholera epidemic, very little active work is recorded during this period. However, the Liberal Constitution of 1857 which was followed by the three years of civil war and the French invasion is seen as the culmination of the political activities of Mexican Masonry and particularly the National Rite. [i]
In 1850, a group of French-Mexican masons living in Mexico City founded a lodge with a charter from the Grand Oriente of France with the permission from the President of the Republic and the blessing of the Mexican National Rite. By 1859, they contacted other masons and joined together to establish a new lodge ‘The Union Fraternal’ with a charter from the Grand Oriente of New Granada. The first master of this lodge was Jame C. Lohse, an American merchant living in Mexico City who had been initiated into Freemasonry by the Friendship Lodge of Pennsylvania. [i]
By the end of 1863, it said the lodge had about two hundred members; Mexicans, Spaniards, Americans, French, English and German freemasons all working together in the same lodge. When the French army of occupation entered Mexico City many of its officers and men who were already masons affiliated themselves with Lodge ‘Union Fraternal’.
Emancipation & Initiation of Benito Juarez
In February of 1847, one of Mexico’s most influential and important political figures Benito Juarez was elected Vice President of the Grand Lodge. Benito was a committed Mason and an atheist. Freemasonry influenced Juarez’s political outlook and he saw himself as a liberal and reformist intent on sweeping away the remnants of Mexico’s colonial past. Benito Juarez was of Zapotec indigenous descent and his parents were poor peasants; he was educated by the Jesuits. Soon in 1854, after being proclaimed the Plan of Ayutla, the Mexican National Rite conferred upon him the 7th Degree, and in 1871 he received the Diploma of Grand Inspector General of The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in Spain. He was also declared an Honorary Member of The Grand Consistory of France. His membership in the Masons undoubtedly influenced his antipathy towards organized religion, especially the Catholic Church. [i] When a new constitution was approved in 1857 that curtailed the power of the Roman Catholic Church, a Conservative rebellion started yet another civil war, known as the Reform War. When it ended with a Liberal victory in 1861, the Reform Laws were implemented. On becoming President he ordered the confiscation of Church lands, the separation of Church and State and the near disenfranchisement of Catholic clergy and religious through the Juarez Law or Ley Juarez.
The Second French intervention
The exhausted and war-torn country, however, was not granted respite. Soon the Second French Intervention began and was initially supported by the United Kingdom and Spain. The French intervention in Mexico was a direct consequence of Mexican President Benito Juárez’s imposition of a two-year moratorium of loan-interest payments from July 1861 to French, British, and Spanish creditors. A new emperor, the Austrian Archduke Maximilian, was imposed in 1862 by French Emperor Napoleon III, with the connivance of Mexican Conservatives. However, he soon instituted liberal social reforms (much to the chagrin of his conservative base). In spite of this, the French intervention still allowed active political reactionaries to rally against the liberal policies of racial, anti-clerical, and socio-economic reform of Masonic president Benito Juárez, thus the Roman Catholic Church, upper-class conservatives, much of the Mexican nobility, and some Native American communities welcomed and collaborated with the French empire’s installation of Maximilian I of Mexico as Emperor of the Mexicans.
Benito Juarez and his Liberals led the fight against the French occupation army. The United States, however, continued to recognize Juárez as the legal president of Mexico. With the end of the American Civil War in 1865, the United States began providing more explicit aid to Juárez’s forces. Matters worsened for Maximilian after French armies withdrew from Mexico in 1867. He was soon besieged at Queretaro and captured as he refused to flee and leave his loyalists behind. [i]
The republic was soon restored, and President Juárez was returned to power in the national capital. He made few changes in policy, given that the progressive Maximilian had upheld most of Juárez’s liberal reforms. The Mexico Maximilian envisioned would never come to be and immediately after his downfall, the country fell back again into the cycle of presidential tyrants, military coups, civil wars and revolutions as we would come to see.
The seeds of the Mexican Revolution
When Benito Juarez died, Mexico passed into the hands of Porfirio Díaz, also a Freemason. Paradoxically a liberal and a dictator at the same time, he upheld the secular principles of the liberal constitution while repressing political freedom. Also, unlike many doctrinaire liberals, Díaz was not virulently anti-clerical. However, powerful liberals implemented legal measures to curtail the power of the Church. Further prohibitions on the Church in 1874 included: the exclusion of religion in public institutions; restriction of religious acts to church precincts; banning of religious garb in public except within churches; and prohibition of the ringing of church bells except to summon parishioners. When he came to power in 1877, Díaz left the anti-clerical laws in place, but no longer enforced them as state policy, leaving that to individual Mexican states. Despite an increasingly visible role of the Catholic Church during the Porfiriato, the Vatican was unsuccessful in getting the reinstatement of a formal relationship between the papacy and Mexico, and the constitutional limitations of the Church as an institution remained the law of the land.[i] He also sought to bring some order out of the chaos of the Mexican Freemasonry of his time by creating a nationwide Gran Dieta or Grand Diet in which both Scottish and York Rite Masons participated. Before being dissolved later in the century, this body originated the regular Grand Lodges of the Mexican Republic. Some of the charters of the constituent Lodges of York Rite Grand Lodge of Mexico bear the signature of Porfirio Diaz to this day. [i]
Díaz came from a devoutly Catholic family; his uncle, José Agustín, was bishop of Oaxaca. Díaz had trained for the priesthood, and it seemed likely that was his career path. Oaxaca was a center of liberalism, and the founding of the Institute of Arts and Sciences, a secular institution, helped foster professional training for Oaxacan liberals, including Benito Juárez and Porfirio Díaz. He strategically covered both pro- and anti-clerical elements, as he was both the head of the Freemasons in Mexico and an important advisor to the Catholic bishops.[i] Díaz proved to be a different kind of liberal than those of the past. He neither suppressed the Church (like most liberals) nor protected the Church.[i] Taking advantage of these looser policies and indifferent attitude towards clericalism and religion in general, Protestant missionaries arrived in Mexico, especially in Mexico’s north, and they became one of his opposing forces during the Mexican Revolution. Not surprisingly as well, when the Mexican Revolution broke out in 1910, the Catholic Church left with no choice, was a staunch supporter of the Díaz regime.
The U.S. had asserted that it had the preeminent role in the Western hemisphere, with Freemason (Initiated Matinecock Lodge No.806, Oyster Bay, New York.) U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt modifying the Monroe Doctrine via the Roosevelt Corollary, which declared that the U.S. could and would intervene in other countries’ political affairs if the U.S. determined they were not well run. After nearly 30 years with Díaz in power, U.S. businesses controlled “nearly 90 percent of Mexico’s mineral resources, its national railroad, its oil industry and, increasingly, it’s land.” [i] A. Sanders (article cited, July 22, 2000) also lists the masters of the Mexican economy by 1914: Rockefeller (rubber), Goblentz (textiles), Guggenheim (mines), Hearst (alias Hirsch) who owned 3 million metric acres, and the Kuhn-Loeb bank, which also financed Lenin in Russia.
In the United States, republicanism, capitalism, and Protestantism grew relatively at peace under the broad ideological liberal framework. Whereas during this time in Mexico, the deeply Catholic culture had never fully thrived under the liberal system imposed since the 1821 Independence. As the election of 1910 approached, groups began to settle on their presidential candidate, Díaz decided that he was not going to retire but rather allow Francisco I. Madero, another Freemason elite but a democratically-leaning reformer, to run against him. Madero’s liberal freemasonry, as well as his business and familiar connections in Northern Mexico and Texas, made him a particularly appealing revolutionary character to the middle-class Fronterizo (Frontier) communities. An old student of the Jesuits, he had received a good education but had since delved into spiritism and radicalism. [i] He ran under his Anti-Re-electionist Party.
Madero called for a return of the Liberal 1857 Constitution of Mexico. Fearful of a dramatic change in direction, on 6 June 1910, the Porfirian regime arrested Madero in Monterrey and sent him to a prison in San Luis Potosí. Approximately 5,000 other members of the Anti-Re-electionist movement were also jailed, which only served to make him a martyr in the eyes of his followers. Francisco Vázquez Gómez took over the nomination, but during Madero’s time in jail, a fraudulent election was held that gave Díaz an unbelievably large margin of victory. This case of massive electoral fraud aroused widespread anger throughout the Mexican citizenry. Madero called for a revolt against Díaz in the Plan of San Luis Potosí, and violence to oust is now seen as the first phase of the Mexican Revolution. In the spring of 1911, the revolutionary forces took Ciudad Juárez, forced Díaz to resign, and declared Madero president. Díaz was forced to resign in office on May 25, 1911, and left the country for Spain six days later on May 31, 1911. [i] Four years later in 1915, Díaz died in exile in Paris, France.
Revolutionary & Anarchist Mexico
Although the Plan of San Luis Potosi revolt was a failure, it ignited revolutionary hope in many of the Fronterizo communities. In northern Mexico, Pascual Orozco and Pancho Villa mobilized their poorly equipped but ragged armies and began raiding Mexican federal military garrisons. In the south, Emiliano Zapata, a supposed Freemason (Claimed by many Latin American freemasons) waged a bloody campaign against the local caciques (rural political leaders). [i]
Madero’s regime soon faltered and showed political cracks from the start. Zapata turned against him, angered at his failure to effect the immediate restoration of land to dispossessed Indians. Orozco, initially a supporter of Madero, was also dissatisfied with the slow pace of reform under the new government and led a revolutionary movement in the Fronterizo north. The U.S. government then turned against Madero as well, fearing that the new president was too docile to the rebel groups and worried about the threat that violent civil war in Mexico was posing to American business interests there.
By February 1913, Huerta and Díaz met in the office of U.S. Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson and signed the so-called “Pact of the Embassy,” in which they agreed to conspire against Madero and to install Huerta as president. Huerta assumed the presidency the following day, after arresting Madero, who was assassinated a few days later. Huerta’s lax position on his promised reforms awoken the anger of a loose alliance between Pancho Villa, Álvaro Obregón, and Venustiano Carranza, whose Plan de Guadalupe called for Huerta’s resignation which happened in 1914.
His successor, Venustiano Carranza, was more firm but not much more disciplined than his predecessor. According to the writings of the men and women who lived during the anarchy, the atmosphere was described as pure violence with the Church as the center objective. Religious persecution had begun since 1913, by of which Father Ledit, a Canadian Jesuit, wrote:
“It was a sort of revolutionary orgy against all that recalled discipline and moral law. Confessionals and statues were burned. Nuns were violated. It was horrible. In certain localities, drunken mercenaries gave extravagant orders, confession was authorized only to the dying and only on the condition that this confession be made out loud and before a government employee. In other places, celebration of Mass was forbidden. Numerous priests were shot. Almost all religious colleges were closed… All bishops, except one who benefited from the protection of the caudillo (military leader) of the South, decided to leave Mexico in protest against the regime imposed upon them.”
A Constituent Assembly opened in 1917 to give the country a new constitution. It was evidently drawn up in the revolutionary spirit of the hour. In the assembly of debates, the clergy was called abject, guardians of ignorance, oppressors, corruption of morals, and more descriptions that echoed the sentiments of the anti-clerical revolutions in Europe. One of the constituents approved that churches be burned, sanctuaries confiscated and even that a few monks be hung. Another added: “If the ropes to hang the tyrants are lacking, we will braid some out of the guts of the priests.” Truly the anti-clerical spirit and attitudes that had long only stayed within in the upper-class elites for generations had now permeated into the mass of liberals that now counted with members in every position of power.
The new constitution resumed and intensified the non-religious clauses of the preceding ones which had not been strictly applied: compulsory lay education for all and interdiction of cults outside of sanctuaries. It forbade religious vows and communities. It deprived Mexican citizenship to whoever did not accept this constitution. Father Ledit remarks that the Mexican constitution of 1917 inspired is also thought to have inspired the writers of the soviet constitution the following year in Russia.
In 1920, a coup d’etat occurred: General Alvaro Obregon had President Carranza assassinated and took his place. [i] Obregón saw himself as indispensable to the nation and had the Constitution of 1917 amended so that he could run again for the presidency in Mexico. [i] This bent and, in many people’s minds, violated the revolutionary rule “no re-election” that had been enshrined in the constitution. Persecution only intensified for the faithful in Mexico. Obregon, an impious man without reluctance, had already distinguished himself in that regard. In 1912, he had desecrated a cathedral (in Guadalupe) using it as quarters for his troops. As mayor of the city of Mexico in 1916, he had assembled all the priests, declared them prisoners and subjected them to horrible treatment.
After becoming president of all Mexico, he governed by applying the persecution clauses of the new constitution with vigor. The red flag was raised on the steeple of the cathedral of Morelia; an image of Our Lady was slashed in the interior of a church that was ransacked, while the local police force frightened away the Catholics who wanted to hold a ceremony of reparation by firing gunshots in the air. The bishop’s palaces of Guadalupe and Mexico were soon bombed later that day as well.
Pushed to Martyrdom in the Cristero War
In this same month of November 1921, the presidency passed into the hands of Freemason Plutarco Elias Calles, who had been designated by Obregon who had been assassinated by José de León Toral, a Cristero. The name of Calles will remain in the religious history of Mexico, spurned as that of Nero or Diocletian in the history of the Church under the Roman emperors.
Born out of wedlock to impoverished Mexican parents, Calles had been a school teacher. He had also participated in the persecution of priests under the presidency of Obregon. But he went much further than his predecessor. He had sworn to destroy the Catholic Church in Mexico. He put bishops in prison, uttered insults against the Pope and declared himself the personal enemy of Christ. [i]
“The Church has only one thing to do: disappear… We must uproot from Mexican soil all outworn religious ideas… We must undertake the terrible struggle against the past, against all the things which we must cause to disappear forever from the surface of the earth… The government is determined to execute its program without taking the slightest notice of the caretaker’s wincing or the protests of the lazy monks. Three times in my life I have met Christ on my path and three times I insulted Him.” – Plutarco Calles
The implementation of his anti-clerical laws of June 24, 1926, added even more severe interdictions to anti-religious laws that had already been promulgated and punished the infractions even more seriously. Catholicism came to be forbidden not only in sanctuaries but even in private homes. The various states of Mexico had been regulated by the state to set a limit to the number of priests allowed according to their populations. In certain areas, the priest to population ratio was 1:50,000. Many religious relics, statues, and images were outlawed in both the public and private spheres.
Because of the persecution, it became impossible for the clergy and priests to exercise their ministry. On July 31, 1926, the priests received the order from their bishops, approved by Pope Pius XI, to suspend the exercise of the cult. The faithful rushed to the churches to receive the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist for the last time, as the persecution appeared to have no end. Churches were draped with black as a sign of mourning. Lay people organized themselves to continue their traditional Catholic exercises without a priest: prayers, hymns, rosaries, pious readings, and catechism.
The priests who continued to hold mass in private did so at their own risk. To be caught would mean prison or even death. In Mexico, 10,000 federal police agents traveled through the streets hunting priests. By November 1, 1926, Freemasonic Calles was boasting before the Mexican Congress of having already closed 120 colleges and 42 Catholic churches, filling prisons with priests caught celebrating Mass, and of having more than 500 priests killed.
It was a dark era in which the Catholic Church in Mexico had to go underground, martyrs were numerous. The bishops, apart from a few who were able to hide, had to flee or were deported. Faced with this satanic and violent revolution in a once pious young daughter of the Church, Pope Pius XI was consoled to learn about the heroic fidelity of thousands of Mexican Catholics, who were made to choose between apostasy or horrible treatments, and often executed for their faith. The Pope wrote on November 18, 1926:
“It is impossible for us to delve into individual cases. We insist in letting you know one thing, the members of Catholic associations are so unafraid of suffering, that instead of fleeing, they seek danger and rejoice when they have to suffer ill treatments on the part of their adversaries. It is a magnificent spectacle that is given to the world, to angels and men! These are facts that are worthy of eternal praise. Numerous are the Catholic leaders, the women and young people who were arrested and dragged by soldiers through streets, shut up in filthy prisons, severely punished and chastised.
“Furthermore, some of these young people and adolescents, and tears come to our eyes as we report this, voluntarily met death with their rosary in hand, the invocation of Christ the King on their lips. To our virgins enclosed in prisons, the most indignant outrages were done, and this was made known in order to intimidate others and make them fail in their duty…”
One of the most famous martyrs during this time was Father Miguel Pro, a Jesuit priest from Zacatecas. Calles himself ordered his execution. When objections were made to Calles that this would make the priest a martyr, he cried out: “Father Pro a martyr? We must set an example for all of this scum? Formalities are not what I want but an execution! No hearing, nothing, what I want is death! I gave the order; all you have to do is obey! To the devil with your records!” 30,000 people attended his funeral procession. Fr. Miguel Pro was beatified on September 25, 1988, by Pope John Paul II.
In the mid-1920s high-ranking members of the well known anti-Catholic US organization, the Ku Klux Klan offered President Calles $10,000 to help fight the Catholic Church, after the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic Fraternity had donated $1,000 to the Cristeros. Soon Freemasonic American journal The New Age of December 1926, expressed [i] its stand on the slaughter of Catholics south of the border:
The Catholic Church has perverted the Mexicans for 400 years. Calles’s merit is to have delivered them from ignorance and superstition. That is why he can count on our understanding and on North America’s support.
At the end of the Cristero War, the entire conflict had claimed 90,000 lives. In May 1926, Calles was awarded a medal of merit from the head of Mexico’s Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in recognition of his actions against the Catholic Church.
The persecution continued until the successor of Calles to the presidency, Emilio Portes Gil, a freemason lawyer, and opportunist, judged that is was the right time for a possible truce. The persecution had backfired, and parallel the early Roman persecutions helping re-energize the faithful through the martyrs. This was concluded on June 22, 1929, and announced by Pius XI himself.
It was a relief and joy for the Catholic population of Mexico when they saw their bishops and priests return to reopen the parishes and again have access to the clergy and sacraments.
Pope Pius XI followed the situation closely, in Mexico as well as in Spain were at war against the Church was just beginning with the implementation of a republic and in Russia where Stalin was waging a pitiless atheistic war against religion.
The Calles law was repealed after Lázaro Cárdenas became president in 1934. Cárdenas earned respect from Pope Pius and befriended Mexican Archbishop Luis María Martinez, a major figure in Mexico’s Catholic Church who successfully persuaded Mexicans to obey the government’s laws in a peaceful manner. The government in many cases did not abide by the terms of the truce and, in violation of its terms, executed some 500 Cristero leaders and 5,000 other Cristeros. Particularly offensive to Catholics after the supposed truce was Calles’ insistence on a complete state monopoly on education, suppressing all Catholic education and introducing secular education in its place: “We must enter and take possession of the mind of childhood, the mind of youth.” The effects of the war on the Church were profound. Between 1926–34 at least 40 priests were killed. There were 4,500 priests serving the people before the rebellion, but by 1934 there were only 334 licensed by the government to serve 15 million people. The rest had been eliminated by emigration, expulsion, and assassination. By 1935, 17 states had no priests at all. The end of the Cristero War affected emigration to the US. “In the aftermath of their defeat, many of the Cristeros—by some estimates as much as 5 percent of Mexico’s population—fled to America [i.e. the United States].
The modern era
The Mexican constitution to this very day prohibits outdoor worship of any religious kind, which is only allowed in exceptional circumstances, generally requiring governmental permission. While it is not in any way like Benito Juarez’s self-authored constitution where politicians were not even allowed to attend mass, Mexico’s religious organizations are still not permitted to own print or electronic media outlets, and governmental permission is required to broadcast religious ceremonies as well as prohibiting the clergy from being political candidates or holding public office.
Final thought – could the current enormous influx of immigrants from Mexico be axiomatically correlation to the economic mismanagement early by Diaz into the 20th century? Or could it spring from the seemingly forceful application of liberalism and republicanism by Freemason elites to an impoverished, but cohesive Catholic culture in the early 19th century? Without sounding like a Mexican apologia, it is true that Mexico has never quite been free as an independent state from the subversive forces of liberalism, republicanism, self-proclaimed despotism, and economic control from outside governments. The Mexican independence also differed to the American Independence (40 years earlier), and became a battleground of enlightenment political ideas between the European and Criollo elites. In many ways, whether subverted, purchased and fought with rivers of blood, French, Anglo, or subversive 18th-century Spanish freemasonry and its spirit of anti-clericalism and liberalism has failed the Mexican people.
Western Man is the founder of MiddleEarth Magazine. He is a Catholic Reactionary, Integralist, and a prospecting Monarchist. You can follow him on Twitter.