MEXICO CITY (LifeSiteNews) —A Mexican court upheld the conviction of a cardinal and a priest for violating “separation of church and state” by “proselytizing” against Mexico’s political establishment.
During the January 19 session, the Superior Chamber of the Electoral Tribunal of the Judiciary of the Federation of Mexico (TEPJF) ruled 3-1 that Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, the Archbishop Emeritus of Guadalajara, and Fr. Mario Ángel Flores Ramos, former rector of the Pontifical University of Mexico (UPM), “unequivocally intended to incite people to vote against a political option” and thus violated the Mexican constitution, fsspx.news reported”
“There is much at stake in these elections. If those who are in power win, a dictatorship will come, that is, liberty will be lost, because we’re talking about a system that is communist, socialist, that enslaves. You just need to look at the countries that have fallen into it,” Sandoval said in his offending statement in a YouTube video posted June 3, 2021.
The decision partially upheld a November 18, 2021 conviction that condemned not only Sandoval and Ramos but also Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes, the Archbishop Primate of Mexico, Bishop Pedro Elizondo Cardenas of Cancún-Chetumal; and Fr. Ángel Espinosa de los Monteros of the Legionaries of Christ, shared fsspx.news.
The rulings followed a lawsuit filed by Mexico’s ruling socialist party, the Movement for Social Regeneration (MORENA), according to a report that Catholic World Report shared after the initial November ruling.
The clerics were held to have specifically violated Article 130 of Mexico’s Constitution, which states, “Ministers cannot associate for political purposes nor proselytize in favor or against any candidate, party, or political association. Neither can they oppose the laws of the country or its institutions, in acts of worship or of religious propaganda, nor in publications of a religious nature, nor offend national symbols in any way.”
According to Catholic World Report, Sandoval was, from the onset of the judiciary battle, the “primary target of the tribunal’s wrath.”
In the speech that sparked the ire of the ruling party MORENA, Sandoval not only slammed the government’s threat to liberty but warned that “the good of the family and of [human] life are at stake, because this government has adopted gender ideology, which brings with it all of the unnatural barbarities that they can unleash, which can impede and destroy the family.”
Besides promoting the inherent evils of, “abortion, express divorce, homosexuality, and homosexual marriage,” the political establishment posed a danger to “religious liberty” because “the communist-Marxist system asks for it, demands it,” according to Sandoval.
Flores Ramos was “targeted” for having asked those attending a conference “not to give more power to those who have not known how to use it for the common good” and “not to give more confidence to those who devote themselves to dividing, not uniting, not developing,” fsspx.news shared.
Catholic World Report affirmed in its report on the prelates’ initial conviction that Ramos’ own offending statements were vaguely directed, saying he “gave a long list of complaints about the existing government but without naming names nor political parties.”
Both clerics had shared their statements through social media, TEPJF noted in its recent decision.
Catholic World Report noted that “Mexico’s constitution has had expressly anti-clerical provisions since 1917,” when revolutionaries “sought to consolidate the country’s secularist and anti-Catholic regime” with constitutional provisions that “prohibited the clergy from wearing their garb in public, voting in elections, intervening in politics, and teaching pre-adolescent children.”
Although some of these restrictions were dropped in the early 1990s, the constitution continued to bar clerics from public office and “participation in politics.”
After November’s verdict, even secular organizations expressed alarm over the condemnation of the clerics. Mexico Republicano, “which supports limited government,” wrote an open letter to the Secretariat of Governance asking them to refrain from applying “any penalty” to the clergymen and uphold a constitutional commitment to human rights, according to Catholic World Report.
They wrote that they were “concerned by the sentence issued by the … Electoral Tribunal” “through which it determined that various prelates of the Catholic Church violated the principle of separation of Church and State, for the mere reason that they freely expressed their ideas regarding certain topics.”
They added that the issues the clergymen discussed, “although they may also have been addressed by some political party in its electoral platform or campaign proposals, cannot be considered topics that are exclusive to the electoral races, but are topics of national discussion at every social, academic, and political level, and even within the religious sphere.”
FSSPX.News noted that while the court dropped its conviction of Bishop Elizondo Cárdenas, since he said in his message “it is not possible to identify a specific political force to which it was intended to benefit or harm,” the cases of Cardinal Aguiar Retes or Fr. Espinosa de los Monteros are not mentioned in TEPJF’s January 19 session or in its published statement.