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August 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The recent initiative of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to impose homosexual “marriage” on the country has led to the greatest confrontation between the government and the Catholic Church since the 1920s and 1930s, warned a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Mexico in a recent interview.

Fr. Hugo Valdemar told Mexico’s Proceso magazine that the president’s attempt to pass a homosexual “marriage” amendment has caused “a cooling of his relationship with the bishops, who are very troubled by his initiative.”

“There hasn’t been a confrontation so strong between the government and the Church since the anticlerical laws of Plutarco Elías Calles were promulgated and since General Lázaro Cárdenas introduced socialist education” in the country, Fr. Valdemar added.

Valdemar is referring to an executive order given by Mexican President Plutarco Elías Calles in 1926, known as the “Calles Law,” that sought to prevent most Mexican priests from functioning and to prohibit religious education in primary and secondary schools. The law led to the closing of churches and to the Cristero War, or “Cristiada,” that caused an estimated 250,000 deaths before the churches were reopened in 1929. The socialist education program of the 1930s led to a second bloody conflict that claimed many lives as well.

Valdemar told Proceso that Peña Nieto had used his relationship with the Catholic hierarchy for his political advantage by presenting his fiancé to Pope Benedict before his 2012 election and later inviting the pope to visit Mexico, but has now betrayed the same bishops he courted.

“In launching his initiative to legalize marriages between people of the same sex, President Peña Nieto betrayed the Church, because he had promised that the agenda of Pope Francis would be his own,” Valdemar said. “So his initiative has been received by us like a terrible stab in the back.”

The Catholic bishops have jointly called for Mexicans to join massive protests against the proposed amendment that will take place throughout the country on September 10 and in Mexico City on September 24.

A previous round of protests held June 1 led to a retreat by the president’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) on the issue. The PRI went on to lose a majority of state governments for the first time since the party’s founding in 1929, a massive electoral defeat that party leadership blamed on the president’s homosexual “marriage” initiative.