The Persecution and Fight For the Faith in Mexico "The Cristeros"
Part Four THE CRISTEROS RESPOND This article is currently being written. Sections will be posted as they are completed. Please check back later.
Every Action Produces a Reaction To briefly summarize the previous article, so as to serve as a logical introduction to this present article, let us recall the chain of events that sparked the Cristeros War or the Cristiada. In 1926, the Mexican President, Plutarco Elias Calles, a 33rd degree Freemason and his followers, launched an attack upon Catholic Mexico that they thought would uproot and eventually destroy the Faith. Calles stated: “Now there must be a psychological revolution. We must penetrate and take hold of the minds of the children and the youth because they must belong to the revolution.” Interestingly, this is something that the devil, the world and materialism has achieved with our youth today—even Catholic youth. They have been absorbed into the ‘revolution’ without even feeling it, knowing it or admitting it. The Mexican Catholic schools were shut down, the religious orders were thrown out of the country, Christian trade unions forbidden, numerous churches confiscated and profaned (turned into stables or halls) or destroyed. Public school attendance became mandatory, atheism was officially taught, and religious insignia (medals, crucifixes, statues, and pictures) were forbidden, even at home. God was even chased-out from the language! The use of religious expressions such as Adios, or “If God wills,” or “God forbid,” were subject to a fine. The priests were “registered.” Some states (Mexico is a federal republic) required them to swear not to seek converts to the Faith, other states tried to command the priests to marry if they wished to continue in their function! Throughout the country, Catholic public figures were assassinated, girls coming out of church were kidnapped, imprisoned, raped.
On July 26th, 1926, an elderly shopkeeper was coldly struck down by two policemen in civilian clothes for having posted a sign reading Viva Cristo Rey! Long live Christ the King! This would be the battle cry of Catholic Mexicans who would resist the religious persecution that had been unleashed. At first the Mexicans peacefully reacted to the persecution. Boycotts of state-owned enterprises (tobacco purchases and railroad traffic) were reduced by as much as 74%, and in just a few weeks, the national bank suffered a 7 million peso loss. But Catholics have an even more powerful weapon in prayer, and the country was criss-crossed by gigantic penitential processions: of 10,000, 15,000 or more faithful, who implored God’s mercy and help for their country. The Masonic government could not tolerate that; their heavy machine guns dispersed the processions, and the first martyrs fell.
The Church Reacts On July 24th, 1926, Cardinal Gaspari sent a telegram from Rome to the Mexican episcopate: “Under no condition will we accept the registering of priests.” The bishops decided to suspend public worship throughout the land starting July 31st, 1926. All the places of public worship would be closed, there would be no Masses and no Sacraments administered throughout the country, except in private chapels. This was an unheard of, inexplicable decision, unless by it they intended to push the Mexicans to revolt.
From the first days of August, the Mexican people, deprived of their priests (only 200 remained with their faithful) and deprived of their bishops (only 1 remained faithful out of 38) used force to resist the plundering and inventorying of the closed churches and the accompanying sacrileges. Their rallying cry was that of the Mexican shopkeeper: Viva Cristo Rey! “Long live Christ the King!” To keep from hearing it, the soldiers had only one solution: cut out the tongue of those whom they were going to kill, of those whom, because of these cries, they named the Cristeros. One of them wrote before dying: “We are going to perish. We will not see the victory, but Mexico needs all this blood for its purification....Christ will receive the homage which is due Him.” The blood now began to flow in ever increasing quantities.
On September 18th, 1926, Pius XI published the encyclical Iniquis Afflictisque: “In narrating this, Venerable Brothers, we can scarcely keep back our tears, some of these young men and boys have gladly met death, the Rosary in their hands and the name of Christ King on their lips .What a beautiful spectacle this, that is thus given to the world, to angels and to men!”
In October of 1926, the Holy Father declared: “The blood of martyrs has always been the seed of blessings from Heaven.” How could one fail to understand that one year after Quas Primas, the Cristeros were signing with their blood this text on the social reign of our Lord Jesus Christ? Freemasonry understood it, and in its American journal The New Age, of December 1926, it expressed its stand: “The Catholic Church has perverted the Mexicans for 400 years. President 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.” The Rising and Resistance In January 1927, Catholic Mexico rose against the persecution: with 20,000 combatants (30,000 by the end of the year, and 50,000 in 1929); with few weapons (a few rifles and carbines, but mostly hatchets, machetes, and sometimes simply sticks); with few horses; but with all the people supporting them, offering them their money, and necessaries. A Cristero peasant recounted how they set out with songs and prayers on their lips: “We were 1,000, then 5,000, then more! Everyone set out as if to go to the harvest ... We firmly intended to die, angry or not, but to die for Christ.”
The old men and children, unarmed, followed behind the troops, in the hope of martyrdom. The parents of Nemesio and Isidro Lopez did not want to see them depart for the war for fear that their flesh would go to feed coyotes and eagles; but they replied, “The coyotes may indeed eat our flesh, but our souls will ascend straight to heaven.” Against them were 100 mobile columns of 1,000 men each, veritable “infernal columns” financed by the US (light armored cars, tractor-drawn artillery, combat aircraft...). The first clashes were bloody massacres. An army officer of President Calles wrote: “They are more like pilgrims than soldiers. This isn’t a military campaign, it’s a hunting party!” The president himself predicted: “It will be wrapped-up in less than two months.”
But when a pilgrimage takes up arms, it becomes a crusade! The Cristeros were able to equip themselves from the adversary, profiting from their cowardice or their corruption. The government “Federales” were more like pillagers, drunk on tequila and marijuana, rather than soldiers worthy of the name. On March 15th, 1927, they were defeated at San Julian; at Puerto Obristo, they left 600 dead. In November, the military attaché of the US began to worry about the success of the “fanatics,” 40% of whose troops were now equipped with excellent Mausers (rifles and machine guns) recuperated from the enemy. How was it possible?
The Miracles The Cristiada was a succession of miracles. One was when the consecrated hosts flew into the sky before the very eyes of the squad that was getting ready to shoot them; it led to the conversion of the Masonic officer who commanded it, and who ended the war as a Cristero general. But there are very many more: God does not let Himself be outdone in generosity. Here are just two accounts.
A Christian general told how he arrived with 350 men who had been fasting for two days in a miserable hamlet of only 11 straw huts. He retired to write his report. Coming out, he saw his soldiers eating with gusto and an old woman with tears in her eyes saying over and over; “I just had a few biscuits, and yet there is enough for everyone, and what is left over is more than I had to begin with!”
A Cristero spy had spoken with the Federales: “They are sorcerers, and the one who commands them is a very valiant general mounted on a white horse, and he is accompanied by a woman. When we open fire on them, it has no effect, and when they approach us, we cannot do anything to them. They command the mist to conceal these accursed Cristeros.” A Cristeros prisoner added: “There is no white horse, and there is no woman in our army. In truth, we believe that St. James and the most Blessed Virgin accompany us, and if we cannot see them, it is because we do not deserve to.”
Marvelous Cristeros! While the Federal army recorded an average of 30,000 desertions annually, the Cristeros did not experience a single case of treason. A cobbler, who had become a sector chief for the Cristeros, was contacted by the enemy who offered to spare his life and make him a colonel, answered: “I am not fighting for a rank. I am fighting for the Church and for Christ the King. As soon as the victory is won, I shall return to my shoes.” He was killed in combat in March 1928.
With diabolic tenacity, President Calles’s men tried to make their prisoners apostatize, but in vain. Fr. Reyes was tortured for three days and two nights. This pastor of Totolan, born in very poor circumstances (as a child he hawked newspapers) had decided to remain at his post. That was enough to unleash the hatred of the Federales, who tormented him with fire. “You say that God descends into your hands, well then, let Him descend and deliver you from ours!” his torturers taunted. They finished him off with bullets on the evening of Holy Wednesday. One of them testified: “We had already lodged three or four bullets in him, when he roused himself to cry out once more: ‘Long live Christ the King!’” Sabás Reyes Salazar was canonized on May 21st, 2000.
Valencia Gallardo, a Cristeros leader, was tied to a stake and tortured, but only cried out throughout: “Long live Christ the King!” They tore out his tongue; he freed one of his hands from the bonds and pointed to Heaven. They cut it off, and then split open his skull with their rifle butts.
Admirable Cristeros! The Cristiada was not a counter revolution with its share of exactions: it was the opposite of a revolution. Read the order of the day of one of its generals who was killed in combat in 1927:
“Disciplinary measures affecting the southern division: The division chiefs of the South of Jalisco, Colima, Nayarit and Western Michocan of the National Liberation Army have adopted the following measures: (1) To render an official, public, and solemn homage to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, sovereign King of our army, and to humbly and lovingly consecrate to Him all the works and all the persons of this division; (2) To never omit, under any pretext, the daily group recitation of the rosary to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, and to accord this observance the same priority as a strict disposition of military regulation; (3) Whenever possible, to arrange things to allow all the leaders, officers and soldiers to officially fulfill the precepts of Sunday worship, confession and Communion; (4) To guarantee divine protection during the battles, by making the army and the Catholics prepare themselves by humble, confident prayer, and by recommending the making acts of perfect contrition.”
Their awareness of the supernatural character of their fight did not lead the Cristeros to neglect temporal realities: “Fight and organize; fight and moralize” was one of their mottoes. In the liberated territories, “administrators” were appointed, Catholic schools were re-opened, public sins (drunkenness, prostitution) were suppressed.
Universal Resistance Who were these new crusaders? They were the people. As one Federale wrote: “We run no risk of making a mistake (by massacring one and all): they all resist.” They were 95% rural folk: peasants, artisans, miners, muleteers, or rural landholders. There was, for instance, Luis Navarro Origel, with a degree in philosophy and a third-order Franciscan: in 1926, he took the lead of the men of the village where he was mayor. He declared: “I am going to kill for Christ those who kill Christ, and perhaps die for Him if need be; I am going to offer the blood of redemption.” He fell at the head of his troops on August 10, 1928, at the age of 30.
The city folk who joined them were especially students and the women involved in the St. Joan of Arc Brigades. Some of these 25,000 heroines were only 14 years old. They acted as liaison agents or scouts, nurses, collectors of money or munitions in the arsenals where they infiltrated as workers! Woe to those who fell into the clutches of the Federales’ hardened soldiers....But they never betrayed any information.
Beautiful youth of Mexico. José Sanchez was 13. In February 1928 he was surrounded by the Federales. He gave up his horse to the group leader who was wounded and covered his retreat. Running out of ammunition, he was captured. “Know it well,” he said, “I am not surrendering, I have merely run out of ammo.” He was slaughtered. A note was found in his pocket: “My dearest Mom: Here I am a captive, and they are going to kill me. I am happy. The only thing that troubles me is that you are going to cry. Don’t cry. We shall meet again.” Signed, José, killed for Christ the King.
Tomasino was a member of the executive committee of the ACJM (Mexican Catholic Youth Association) and prefect of the congregation of Mary. Arrested, he was offered his freedom if he talked. “Really, you would be making a mistake: free, I would continue to fight for Christ the King. For us, the fight for our freedom of worship is not optional.” In August 1927, he was hanged. He was 17.
Manuel Bonilla, a student, kept a daily diary: “I well know that, to do great things, God uses littler ones, and that help does not come whence we were expecting it...I trust in God’s goodness: all these sacrifices will not be in vain.” He was shot at 22 years of age, on Good Friday, 1927, at three o’clock in the afternoon. In 1942, his body was discovered perfectly intact.
Part Three THE MASONIC PROVOCATION
Century of Massacres The 20th century was the bloodiest century in history, the “century of massacres,” “Hell’s Century,” the century of martyrs-just like all the others? No, not just like all the others; it was the great century of martyrs, infinitely more than the others. Never had there been so many martyrs in the space of 100 years, not even in the space of 1,000 years. These tens of millions of Christians, the victims of a century in open revolt against God, remain unknown and unsung. It is good for us to recall for the Mexican Catholics who, some 70 years ago, rose up against Freemasonry for the social reign of our Lord Jesus Christ. They were called the Cristeros. This may well be our fate and out battle in the near future!
A Century of Religious Persecutions From the time its independence was declared in 1821, Mexico had a troubled history: civil wars, dictatorships, coup d’états, revolutions (1876-1911). Maximilian’s Empire (1863-67) was but a brief and very imperfect parentheses in the persecutions endured by the Church once the Spanish left: property despoiled, priests imprisoned, assassinations plotted, bishops expelled. Why so many misfortunes? A proverb provides the answer: “Poor Mexico! So far from God and so close to the United States.” The United States did not want a great Catholic power at their door. At the time of Mexican independence, they worried about this potential rival whose land mass roughly equaled their own, and whose population, though less numerous (6.5 million Mexican inhabitants versus 9.5 millions of Americans) had become, thanks to a very lively Catholic Faith, a true nation, while the United States remained, and remains even now, the “Salad Bowl.”
In the 1830s, war broke out. Betrayed by Masonic generals,6 Mexico lost its northern territory, California, Texas, New Mexico (1848), and was placed under United States political and economic hegemony
The puppets successively made presidents of Mexico were all corrupt Masons who immediately enforced the orders issued from Washington to “defanaticize” the country, that is, to destroy its Catholicism which dated from the 16th century when the Spanish (especially the Franciscans8), had evangelized Mexico; the order also demanded defiling the memory of its European heritage by exalting the pre-Columbian era9 and the “marvelous” Aztec civilization where the wheel and the vault were unknown, but where slavery, human sacrifice and cannibalism were practiced on a grand scale even in the 16th century!
Here are just two examples of this policy: The first official act of President Juarez was to transform St. Francis of Mexico Church into a Protestant temple (1867), and the publication of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Humanum Genus (1884) was prohibited (it condemns Freemasonry) even in the seminaries!
In 1914, President Carranza, put in place by the US, inaugurated a period of open persecution: priests were massacred (160 were killed in Mexico in February, 1915). John Lind, one of Woodrow Wilson’s advisors, rejoiced over the news: “Great news! The more priests they kill in Mexico, the happier I shall be!” An American pastor, indignant about the outraging of the nuns in Vera Cruz, received this reply from Wilson’s personal representative: “After prostitution, the worst thing in Mexico is the Catholic Church. Both must disappear!” Calles’s Callous Attacks In 1924, Plutarco Elias Calles became President of Mexico. For this descendant of Spanish Jews, a 33rd degree Mason, “the Church is the unique cause of all Mexico’s misfortunes.” For him, too, she had to disappear.15 With the complicity of a Masonic priest, Fr. Perez, proclaimed by the government “Patriarch of the Mexican Catholic Church,” Calles founded a schismatic “patriotic Church,” as the Communists were to do later in China. The wine used in the Mass was replaced by mescal. But the maneuver was met with widespread contempt. The government could finance the opening of 200 Protestant schools and Calles could smooth the way for heretical sects (already well financed by the US), but the Mexican people remained stubbornly attached to Rome!
In 1926, the president and his clique launched a new offensive which they hoped to be definitive: “Now there must be a psychological revolution,” Calles declared. “We must penetrate and take hold of the minds of the children and the youth because they must belong to the revolution.” The Catholic schools were shut down, the congregations expelled, Christian trade unions forbidden, numerous churches confiscated and profaned (turned into stables or halls) or destroyed. Public school attendance became mandatory, atheism was officially taught, and religious insignia (medals, crucifixes, statues, and pictures) were forbidden, even at home. God was even chased from the language! The use of such expressions as Adios, “If God wills,” or “God forbid,” was subject to a fine.
Lastly, the priests were “registered”: some states (Mexico is a federal republic) required them to swear not to proselytize, others tried to command them to marry if they wished to continue in their function! Msgr. Carvana, the Apostolic Nuncio, protested; on May 12th, 1926, he was expelled. Throughout the country, Catholic public figures were assassinated, girls coming out of church were kidnapped, imprisoned, raped. Msgr. Curley, the Archbishop of Baltimore, vented his indignation: “Calles persecutes the church because he knows that he has Rome’s approval. Our government has armed Calles’s killers. Our friendship has encouraged him in his abominable enterprise: to destroy the idea of God in the minds and hearts of millions of Mexicans.”
On May 28th, Calles received the Masonic medal of merit from the hands of the Great Commander of the Scottish rite in Mexico. On July 12th, the following communique appeared in the press: “International Masonry accepts responsibility for everything that is happening in Mexico, and is preparing to mobilize all its forces for the methodic, integral application of the agreed upon program for this country.”
On July 26th, an elderly shopkeeper was coldly struck down by two policemen in civilian clothes. His crime? In his shop he had posted a sign reading Viva Cristo Rey! Long live Christ the King! The Mexicans peacefully reacted to the persecution: they boycotted state-owned enterprises (tobacco purchases and railroad traffic were reduced by 74%, and in just a few weeks, the national bank suffered a 7 million peso loss), and they also circulated a protest petition signed by 2 million (out of a population which had grown to 15 million by that time).
But Christians have something even better than that, they have prayer, and the country was crisscrossed by gigantic penitential processions: 10,000 to 15,000 faithful, barefooted, crowned with thorns, implored God for their country. The powers that be could not tolerate that; their heavy machine guns dispersed the processions, and the first martyrs fell, singing.
Bishops and Priests "Go On Strike" and Public Worship is Suspended On July 24th, 1926, Cardinal Gaspari sent a telegram from Rome to the Mexican episcopate: “Under no condition we will accept the registering of priests.” The bishops decided to suspend public worship throughout the land starting July 31st: all the places of public worship would be closed, there would be no Masses offered nor sacraments administered throughout the country except in private chapels. This was an unheard of, inexplicable decision, unless by it they intended to push the Mexicans to revolt, for the one thing they could not bear was to be deprived of the sacraments. During the final days of July, people thronged the churches day and night, going to confession, getting baptized, and marrying.
People began to come to put their consciences well in order even though it was already time to begin working in the fields. With each passing day more and more peasants streamed into the village from the neighboring hamlets, their pale faces and sorrowful eyes bespeaking their anguish. There were three priests in Tlalte-nango parish, not enough to confess so many people. Despite being in the confessional from dawn to dusk, with no time to eat or rest, still they could not confess all who came... How surprising to see someone estranged from the sacraments come to receive forgiveness of his sins; and others who lived in concubinage come to seek out the confessor, asking to be united in marriage.
And then the terrible hour came as shown by this eye-witness testimony:
"This day, there was to be a Mass at midnight and by the end of Vespers the church could no longer contain the immense multitude of the faithful. One after the other, the faithful would go on their knees from the door to the altar; no one wanted to see this most dolorous moment arrive, but God was going to permit it to come to pass. At 11:30 pm, the bells dolefully tolled the hour of the Mass. The nocturnal adorers, the pious associations and the Catholic social organizations with their groups and their banners were there, as were all the faithful. At midnight the Blessed Sacrament was exposed and the Mass began. After the Gospel, our dear Fr. Gonzalez mounted the pulpit. He had barely gone up when all the people gathered at the foot of Jesus-Host began to cry. The broken words that the father spoke, full of sorrow, were interrupted by sobs. After Communion, at the end of Holy Mass, we were given the benediction with His Divine Majesty. Finally, the father, divested of his ornaments, knelt at the foot of the altar, his eyes fixed on the image of Our Lord of Mercies; silently he took leave of Him and went out through the midst of the faithful. Christ and His minister had departed."
Few Remain Faithful From the first days of August, the Mexican people, deprived of their priests (only 200 remained with their faithful) and of their bishops (only 1 remained faithful out of 38) used force to resist the inventorying of the closed churches and the accompanying sacrileges. Their rallying cry was that of the Mexican shopkeeper: Viva Cristo Rey! “Long live Christ the King!” To keep from hearing it, the soldiers had only one solution: cut out the tongue of those whom they were going to kill, of those whom, because of these cries, they named the Cristeros. One of them wrote before dying: “We are going to perish. We will not see the victory, but Mexico needs all this blood for its purification....Christ will receive the homage which is due Him.” Blood flowed. Ireland broke its diplomatic relations with Mexico. No other state followed suit.
On September 18, 1926, Pius XI published the encyclical Iniquis Afflictisque:
"In narrating this, Venerable Brothers, we can scarcely keep back our tears, some of these young men and boys have gladly met death, the Rosary in their hands and the name of Christ King on their lips. What a beautiful spectacle this, that is thus given to the world, to angels and to men!"
In October the Holy Father declared: “The blood of martyrs has always been the seed of blessings from heaven.” How could one fail to understand that one year after Quas Primas, the Cristeros were signing with their blood this text on the social reign of our Lord Jesus Christ? Freemasonry understood it, and in its American journal The New Age of December 1926, it expressed its stand:
“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.”
Part Two THE FUSE GETS LIT
Learn From History or Repeat History We cannot fully understand the Cristeros War without briefly looking at the wars that led up to it. As they say, if you do not know your history, then you will be obliged to repeat it! Sadly, we are, for the most part, historically-superficial—meaning that we want to be told about decades of history in only two-minutes! Most Catholics know very little history—except for being very good in the history of how people have offended and hurt us in the past! So, at the risk of putting some to sleep—go grab a coffee—here are a few paragraphs that detail how and why the Cristeros War erupted. Even before the Cristeros War began, Mexico had been in and out of political and bloody turmoil for around a century.
Era of Revolution The Cristeros War comes in the wake of almost 150 years of revolutionary upheaval in Europe and North and Central America―sparked by the American Revolutionary that ended in 1783 and the French Revolution which erupted in 1789. The “Revolution” (the political embodiment of the false philosophy of Liberalism) ― apart from its having actually come to power nearly everywhere in the world two centuries after first exploding in France in 1789, with its physical violence and butchery―the ever-unfolding Revolution has, over those two centuries, succeeded in other ways. Perhaps its greatest success is the extent to which it has persuaded the great mass of mankind that the Revolution is for the people and by the people; that it is “their movement”, “their “cause”, a struggle of the majority for freedom and opportunity against the elites who formerly oppressed them and will do so again unless they remain vigilant. The Catholic Church is, of course, included among those oppressive “elites”. Without doubt, the success of the Revolution in this respect helps account for the fact that the Revolution now holds sway nearly everywhere, though rarely under its own name anymore. Nowadays the Revolution usually calls itself, in some countries, by the less abrasive title of “democracy.” In other countries the Revolution calls itself “Socialism” or “Communism”. Whatever name is chosen, the beast is still the same.
Who Should Be the Boss? As St. Thomas Aquinas says, a democracy (being ruled by the people) is not as good as a monarchy (being ruled by a king)—in both cases integrity and virtue is necessary for either form of government. Yet, as was the case with the once Chosen People—the Israelites—a theocracy (being ruled by neither people nor king, but being ruled by God Himself) is best. Once the Israelites, through the prophet Samuel, demanded that God give them a human king—everything went downhill from there! God gave them what they asked for, and one king after another brought a greater or lesser disaster upon Israel. Finally, in the time of Christ, the remnant of destroyed 12 tribes of Israel—the Jews—cry out to Pontius Pilate: “We have no king but Caesar!” Thus we see a “Revolution” progressively occur even among the once Chosen People. Going further back in time, we see the revolution of Lucifer against God, and then the Lucifer influenced revolution of Adam and Eve against God.
Revolution Against Church and Christendom Though the power of our modern-day Revolution does extend nearly everywhere, what matters most to the Revolution itself is that its power is first of all established in those lands that once constituted Christendom. The Revolution came into existence, after all, to overthrow the beliefs, laws, customs and practices which distinguished Christendom from the rest of the pagan world. As for that “rest,” most of it had been colonized by Christendom, or was otherwise taking its lead from the lands of Christendom by the time the Revolution supplanted the teachings of the Faith with its own false philosophy. Thus, Christendom’s transformation into the liberal West inevitably resulted in the Revolution’s dominance over the other lands―the ones in Asia, Africa and elsewhere, and their peoples.
That the Revolution always aimed to supplant the teachings of the Faith with its own principles has led many Christian commentators to identify this or that non-Christian group or organization as the “real” force or power “behind” the movement. No reasonable man can doubt that the “forces of organized naturalism,” as the famous Fr. Denis Fahey (1883–1954) called them, have had their role in the history of the past two centuries. Fahey’s viewpoint—if we read him correctly—was that the nearly universal sway of the Revolution, today, is owed more to our own fallen nature, than to anything else. That is, men have been inclined, ever since the Fall of Adam and Eve, to live according to their own will instead of God’s. Starting over two centuries ago―with the French Revolution of 1789―they finally began to overthrow the political and social institutions that opposed their inclination to live outside the Laws of God. For a time, the Church was able to prevent this development from becoming nearly complete, as earlier she was able to prevent it altogether. At the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), however, it was denied that Church teachings had a special role or influence in the conduct of political affairs. Since then, there has been little standing in the way.
A Small Resistance to Revolution To say there has been little standing in the way is not to say there is nothing. Here and there individuals and groups strive to keep alive the idea of Christian social order. Their very existence keeps the nearly universal sway of the Revolution from becoming total. That is on the one hand. On the other, by keeping the idea alive now, they also make it possible for Christian social order to be revived when God decides the time for that is come.
The work of these individuals and groups is taxing, for it is not easy to seem always to be on history’s losing side. Things can be even more discouraging for those not directly engaged in the work, but who support it. “Will a brighter day ever come?” they wonder. This discouragement was foretold by Our Lady of Good Success at Quito, Ecuador: “The small number of souls, who hidden, will preserve the treasures of the Faith and practice virtue will suffer a cruel, unspeakable and prolonged martyrdom. Many will succumb to death from the violence of their sufferings and those who sacrifice themselves for the Church and their country will be counted as martyrs. In order to free men from the bondage to these heresies, those whom the merciful love of my most Holy Son has designated to effect the restoration, will need great strength of will, constancy, valor and confidence of the just. There will be occasions when all will seem lost and paralyzed. This then will be the happy beginning of the complete restoration.” (Our Lady of Good Success, January 16, 1611).
The Revolution in Mexico The series of Mexican Civil Wars in the 19th and 20th centuries—The Reform Wars (1857-1860), the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) and the Cristeros War (1926-1929)—all revolved around the struggle between the neo-pagan Liberalism of the Modern State and the traditional and conservative values of the Catholic Church.
The Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821) ended the rule of Spain in her colonial territory of New Spain (Mexico). The Mexican War of Independence had its platform in France, where Napoleon (a product and propagator of the French Revolution) invaded Spain, in 1808, with his revolutionary troops, whereby the Spanish king was deposed and Napoleon Bonaparte placed his elder brother, Joseph Bonaparte, on the Spanish throne. The reverberations of this came to New Spain (Mexico) where the country was strongly divided as it tried to recover from more than a decade of fighting in seeking freedom from Spanish rule.
The political division was roughly divided into two groups, the Liberals and the Conservatives. The Liberal political movements had their beginnings in the secret meetings of the Freemasonry. The secret nature of the society allowed for discreet political discussion. Conservatives favored a strong centralized government, with many wanting a European-style monarchy.
Conservatives favored protecting many of the institutions inherited from the colonial period, including tax and legal exemptions for the Catholic Church and the military. Liberals favored the establishment of a federalist republic based on ideas coming out of the European Enlightenment (a Rationalist and anti-Catholic movement), and the limiting of the Church’s and military’s privileges. Until the end of the Reform period Mexico’s history would be dominated by these two factions vying for control and fighting against foreign incursions at the same time. From 1821-57, 50 different governments ruled the country. These included dictatorships, constitutional republican governments and a monarchy. The Reform Era of Mexican history is generally defined from 1855-76.
The Reform Wars (1857 - 1860) The War of the Reform in Mexico was the three-year civil war (1857-1860) between Liberals who had taken power in 1855, and Conservatives who were resisting the legitimacy of this Liberal government and its radical restructuring of Mexican laws, known as La Reforma. The War of the Reform is one of many episodes of the long struggle between Liberal and Conservative forces that dominated the country’s history in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Liberals wanted to eliminate the political, economic, and cultural power of the Catholic Church as well as undermine the role of the Mexican Army. Both the Catholic Church and the Army were protected by corporate or institutional privileges established in the Spanish colonial era. Liberals sought to create a modern nation-state founded on liberal principles. The Conservatives wanted a centralist government, some even a monarchy, with the Church and military keeping their traditional roles and powers, and with landed and merchant elites maintaining their dominance over the majority mixed-race and indigenous populations of Mexico.
This struggle erupted into a full-scale civil war when the Liberals, then in control of the government, began to implement a series of laws designed to strip the Church and military—but especially the Church—of its privileges and property. The Liberals passed a series of separate laws implementing their vision of Mexico, and then promulgated the Constitution of 1857, which gave constitutional force to their program. Conservative resistance ousted the Liberal government of President Ignacio Comonfort in a coup d'etat and took control of Mexico City, forcing the Liberals to move their government to the city of Veracruz. The Conservatives controlled the capital and much of central Mexico, while the rest of the states had to choose whether to side with the Conservative government or Liberal government.
The Liberals lacked military experience and lost most of the early battles, but the tide turned when Conservatives twice failed to take the Liberal stronghold of Veracruz. The government of U.S. President James Buchanan recognized the Liberal regime in April 1859 and negotiated a treaty, which if ratified would have given the Mexican Liberal regime cash, and also granted the U.S. transit rights through Mexican territory. Liberal victories accumulated thereafter until Conservative forces surrendered in December 1860.
Masonic President José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori (1830-1915) was a Mexican general and politician who served seven terms as President of Mexico, a total of three and a half decades from 1876 to 1911. A veteran of the War of the Reform (1857–60) and the French intervention in Mexico which sought to put Mexico under French rule (1862–67), Díaz rose to the rank of General, leading republican troops against the French-imposed rule of Emperor Maximilian. Seizing power in a coup d’etat, in 1876, Díaz and his allies ruled Mexico for the next thirty-five years, a period known as the Porfiriato.
The Díaz family was devoutly religious, his uncle was bishop of Oaxaca. Díaz began training for the priesthood at the age of fifteen. He was offered a post as a priest in 1846, but important national events intervened. Seminary students volunteered as soldiers to repel the U.S. invasion during the Mexican–American War (1846-1848). Despite not seeing action on the battlefield, Díaz decided his future was in the military, not the priesthood. Also in 1846, Díaz came into contact with a leading Oaxaca Liberal, Marcos Pérez― Oaxaca was a center of Liberalism. Another student there had been the Liberal Benito Juárez, who became governor of Oaxaca in 1847. In 1849, despite family objections, Díaz abandoned his ecclesiastical career and studied law. Díaz then aligned himself with radical Liberals. At some point Díaz had also become a Freemason.
When Díaz finally came to power as president in 1876, Diaz’s regime brought stability after decades of conflict, it grew unpopular due to civil repression and political stagnation. His economic policies largely benefited his circle of allies as well as foreign investors, and helped a few wealthy estate owning persons acquire huge areas of land, leaving rural peasants unable to make a living. Likewise these estates were often deadly to the poor workers, resulting in approximately 600,000 deaths from 1900 through the end of Diaz's rule in 1910.
The Freemasonic President Diaz did not directly persecute the Catholic Church, but neither did he protect the Church. When he came to power in 1876, Díaz left the anti-clerical laws in place, but no longer enforced them as state policy, leaving that to individual Mexican states. This led to the re-emergence of the Church in many areas, but in others a less full role. The Church flouted the Reform prohibitions against wearing clerical garb, there were open-air processions and Masses, and religious orders existed. The Church also recovered its property, sometimes through intermediaries, and tithes were again collected. The Church regained its role in education, with the complicity of the Díaz regime, which did not put money into public education. The Church also regained its role in running charitable institutions. Despite an increasingly visible role of the Catholic Church during the Diaz’s rule, 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.
After Díaz declared himself the winner of an eighth term in office in 1910, his electoral opponent issued a call for armed rebellion against the Díaz, leading to the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). After the Federal Army suffered a number of military defeats, Díaz was forced to resign in 1911 and went into exile in France, where he died four years later.
The Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) The 1800s was ridden with coups and revolution, but these were ultimately only the precursors towards the true Mexican Revolution which spanned the first quarter of the twentieth century. In 1876, Porfirio Diaz, an Indian general in the Mexican Army took control of the nation, and continued to be elected until 1910. In a 1908 interview Porfirio Diaz stated that he believed Mexico would be ready for free elections by 1910. When this interview was published it inspired a rich landowner in northern Mexico, Francisco Madero, to gather supporters around him and attempt to build a political backing of followers that could defeat Diaz in the 1910 election. The people of Mexico were inspired and by the time 1910 came around Madero had a very good chance of becoming President of Mexico. Diaz, in an attempt to stay in power, arrested Madero and rigged the election. Madero escaped from prison and immediately fled for San Antonio Texas. While in Texas he declared himself President of Mexico and called for a violent revolt on November 20th, 1910. The revolt failed but inspired other revolutionary groups to band together. These groups were mainly peasant workers and simple folk—a characteristic that will be seen in the Cristeros War that would erupt just over a decade later.
One of the strongest revolutionary groups to band together began in Mexico's southern province. The young leader of this faction was Emiliano Zapata―the son of a poor peasant. Zapata attempted to break the rich landowner system, which was very similar to the feudal system. When Emiliano realized he would not be able to accomplish this task, he and his brother, Eufemio, organized a powerful guerrilla force of poor peasants. This force became known as the Zapatistas and soon grew to contain over 5,000 men. In northern Mexico two more revolutionary forces was formed. The first was led by Francisco “Pancho” Villa, an ex- bandit, who organized Mexico's cowboys into a powerful army. The other army was led by Pascual Orozco, another peasant who was discontented with the political and economic situation in Mexico.
In early 1911 Pascual Orozco and Pancho Villa began raiding garrisons in northern Mexico, while the Zapatistas took control of the town of Cuautla, in southern Mexico. Once Zapata secured the town he cut off the road to Mexico City. A week later Diaz realized he was doomed and fled Mexico for Europe. In his wake he left a provisional President and a large federal army. Soon after Diaz fled Mexico, Zapata took Cuernavaca, the capital of Morelos. He then rode to Mexico City, where he met the Liberal Francisco Madero, who the revolutionaries declared President. This victory, however, was only the beginning of the conflict that would arise in Mexico.
The Rise of the Traitorous Victoriano Huerta Madero's Liberal leadership came to end quickly. The first mistake Madero made during the early days of his presidency was alienating the revolutionaries, or the Constitutionalists as they would later come to be known. During their first meeting, Zapata, who wanted to disband the powerful local rule of rich landowners, attempted to convince Madero to divide the lands among the nation's farmers. Madero, always the moderate, attempted to buy Zapata's complacence with a large piece of land. This offer only succeeded in turning Zapata against him. In fact, every aspect of Madero's agenda was an attempt to please everyone, a typical Liberal method of operation, which translated into complete inaction. This inaction caused the activist revolutionaries in the North, Villa and Orozco, to abandon Madero along with Zapata.
General Victoriano Huerta—at first promising to help President Madero—turned traitor and plotted against him. In his earlier military days, we see him rob a Catholic Church in order to have funds to pay his soldiers. Following a complaint from the Catholic Church that Huerta had plundered a church to sell off its gold and silver to pay his men, Huerta justified his actions on the grounds: “Mexico can do without her priests, but cannot do without her soldiers.” In addition, he was also given over to heavy bouts of drinking and drunkenness. He may have been Conservative, but perhaps only on the surface, or by name and not nature! Huerta initially pledged allegiance to the new administration of Francisco Madero, and he was retained by the Madero administration to crush anti-Madero revolts by rebel. However, Huerta secretly plotted with United States Ambassador to Mexico Henry Lane Wilson and Félix Díaz, the overthrown and exiled President’s Porfirio Díaz's nephew, to overthrow Madero. This episode in Mexican history is known as La Decena Trágica (The Ten Tragic Days). Following a confused few days of fighting in Mexico City between loyalist and rebel factions of the Army, Huerta had Madero and vice-president José María Pino Suárez seized and briefly imprisoned in February of 1913. The conspirators then met at the U.S. Embassy to sign El Pacto de la Embajada (The Embassy Pact), which provided for the exile of President Madero and Vice-President Pino Suárez, and Huerta's takeover of the Mexican government.
To give the coup the appearance of legitimacy, Huerta had foreign minister Pedro Lascuráin assume the presidency; who, as foreign minister, stood third in line for the presidency behind the exiled vice-president and exiled attorney general. Lascuráin then appointed Huerta as interior minister—constitutionally, fourth in line for the presidency. After less than an hour in office (some sources say as little as 15 minutes), Lascuráin resigned, handing the presidency to Huerta. At a late-night special session of Congress surrounded by Huerta's troops, the legislators endorsed his assumption of power. Four days later Madero and Pino Suárez were taken from the National Palace to prison at night and shot by officers of the federal police, who were assumed to be acting on Huerta's orders.
Immediately after Huerta came into power the amount of revolutionary violence skyrocketed. Huerta was hated because of his drunkenness and tyrannical rule. Three major forces rose up in the north. These revolutionary forces were led by Pancho Villa, Alvaro Obrégon, and Venustantio Carranza. Upon Madero’s death Carranza took control of the remainders of Madero’s army and began fighting. In the south Zapata continued fighting. All through 1913 and early 1914 Huerta and his army suffered defeat after defeat. Finally, in the summer of 1914, all four major revolutionary forces converged on Mexico City. Huerta, realizing he was defeated, was forced to flee. So ended Victoriano Huerta’s rule. On August 20th, 1914, Venustantio Carranza, despite the objections of Pancho Villa, declared himself President of Mexico.
President Carranza A bloody fight between Carranza and Pancho Villa began soon after Carranza declared himself President. Villas army pushed south, forcing Carranza to flee to Mexico. Carranza fought back, inflicting fierce casualties to Villa’s army. In turn, Zapata made the boldest move of all. On November 14th, 1914, the Zapatistas took Mexico City. The fighting continued until Villa, Zapata and Obregon, realizing order would be impossible without peace, set up a council to solve the problem. Their solution was installing Eulalio Guitierrez as interim president. With this, Zapata agreed to withdraw from Mexico City. Although peace was momentarily achieved, the revolutionaries quickly broke up into alliances. Villa and Zapata remained loyal to each other and backed Guitierrez, while Obregon and Carranza allied and supported Carranza’s wish to reclaim the presidency.
After much more fighting and bloodshed, Carranza re-claimed the Presidency. Immediately after Carranza assumed the Presidency a period of disorder and near anarchy ensued, as revolutionaries under Villa fought Carranza. Violence and bloodshed were frequent. Soon the parties realized that Mexico could not achieve peace if the feud between Villa and Carranza continued. An interim president Gutiérrez was then elected and backed by Zapata and Villa. Unfortunately, Obrégon re-allied with Carranza in an effort to suppress Villa and gain power, and in late 1915, both Villa and Zapata suffered significant losses while fighting with the armies of Obregon and Carranza.
The Tyrannical 1917 Contsitution In an effort to restore peace and order, a Constitution was drafted by Carranza in 1917. This Constitution is functionally the same Constitution that governs modern day Mexico. Unfortunately, the Constitution granted dictatorial authority to the President. It enabled the state to confiscate and redistribute land from the wealthy landowners. Additionally, the Catholic Church’s scope of power was drastically reduced, and possibly most importantly, it guaranteed worker’s rights. Article 3 called for secular education in the schools; Article 5 outlawed monastic orders; Article 24 forbade public worship outside the confines of churches; and Article 27 placed restrictions on the right of religious organizations to hold property. Most obnoxious to Catholics was Article 130, which deprived clergy members of basic rights and made them in effect second-class citizens. Priests and nuns were denied the right to wear clerical attire, to vote, to criticize government officials or to comment on public affairs in religious periodicals. This would be part of the fuse that would launch the Cristeros War.
As Carranza’s power rose, Zapata began needing extra troops, more and more. This necessity was greatly hastened when Carranza defeated Zapata once more, and took back Morelos. In April of 1919 Zapata appeared to receive a stroke of luck. It seemed one of Carranzas’s generals was interested in defecting and becoming a Zapatista. On April, 10, 1919 Zapata went to visit the defecting general. Only after he arrived did Zapata realize that the meeting was an ambush. Zapata was shot and killed moments after he arrived at the supposed meeting. With Zapata’s death Mexico and all the Revolutionary fighting suffered a major setback.
The Fall of Carranza Although Carranza had just published a constitution that was fairly beneficial for the Mexican masses, he became hated for murdering Zapata. In 1920 he tried to break up railroad strike in Sonora. This furthered the people’s contempt of Carranza, to the point where he lost nearly all his supporters, including the powerful Obregon. Realizing his political career was spiraling, Carranza attempted to flee Mexico. He was killed just outside of Mexico City in May of 1920. A politician by the name of Adolfo de la Huerta was installed as interim President, until presidential elections could be held. When elections finally took place in November, Alvaro Obregón won by a landslide. Although sporadic violence continued for the most part peace was achieved. With Alvaro Obregón election as President the Mexican Revolution came to a close and the Cristeros War was on the horizon!
Part One TROUBLE BREWING
False Propaganda About the Cristiada and the Cristeros The Cristiada and the Cristeros ― meaning “Crusade” and “Soldier for Christ” ― are epic names belonging to the domain of legendary heroism for the Faith. Those words speak of the glorious Catholic counter-revolutionary uprising against the anti-religious Mexican government in the years 1926 to 1929.
Today, many try to explain by revolutionary propaganda the reason for the explosion of hatred and violence by the Mexican government against Catholics. They falsely argue that the military resistance of the Cristeros, against the Mexican government, was a revolt of the poor against the rich, of the Indians against the colonizer, of America against Europe. All of this is contrary to the truth.
The reality is different and tragic: the people were defending the traditional values and the legitimate monarchy, while the “enlightened” elites promoted the revolution and persecution. The movement of the Cristeros came from a healthy reaction of the Catholic people who wanted to preserve the Catholic Faith and traditions of Christian Civilization.
Foreign influences over Mexico The French Revolution of 1789 had overthrown the Monarchy in France, 100 years to the very day after the Sacred Heart had asked the king of France to consecrate France to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. One king after another refused to do this and France, as a punishment, fell prey to the French Revolution. Soon after, Napoleon was toppling all the monarchies of Europe to transform them into egalitarian republics―which meant that the king was replaced by a democracy and everyone was looked upon as being equal. In many cases, he actually succeeded in this. To this strong revolutionary wind blowing from Europe was added the influence over Mexico of the newborn United States of America, molded by the same “enlightened” principles.
Madrid Surrenders To Napoleon In 1808 the French revolutionary armies entered Spain and took the city of Madrid. As this country was being invaded, the first call for revolution was smoldering in Mexico. Several years later, Napoleon and the French troops were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula, but he left the bad fruits of the French Revolution planted into the liberal Spanish Constitution of 1812.
The invasion of French revolutionaries shook the old social order in Spain and opened an era of turbulence, political instability, and economic stagnation. The Spanish revolutionaries would take advantage of that situation. A devastating civil war between liberal and absolutist factions broke out and persisted in Spain until 1850. That political turmoil in the mother land would encourage revolts in the Spanish colonies of Latin America. Almost all of its colonies took up the revolutionary banner and claimed their independence.
The Birth of the Liberal Revolution Part of the Mexican Catholic clergy was deeply influenced by the Enlightenment―a Liberal and Rationalist movement that arose in Europe prior to 1789 French Revolution. The seminary of St. Nicholas College in Vallidad was one of the centers cultivating these liberal ideas. As a consequence of that influence, the first call for independence in Mexico was made shortly before dawn on September 16, 1810 by a revolutionary and adulterous priest, Fr. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla.
Fr. Hidalgo was a liberal priest from St. Nicholas College who championed the new “democratic” ideas and wanted to do away with monarchy in Mexico. This priest nicknamed “The Fox” lived a scandalous and sacrilegious life. Among other things, he openly opposed the absolute power of the Pope, the perpetual virginity of Our Lady and clerical celibacy. In spite of having been investigated by the Inquisition, he was given the parish of small town of Dolores, near the city of Guanajuato. From there he gave the famous “Grito de Dolores,” or Shout of Dolores. Under the hypocritical pretense of preserving the country for Ferdinand VII, the Spanish and rightful King, he proclaimed the independence of Mexico.
Higalgo marches on Mexico City Holding the torch of Enlightenment and under the banner of the Virgin, Fr, Hidalgo begins his march to Mexico City. Fr. Hidalgo was quite aware that his revolutionary ideas would not hold together the insurgency. So, to bring people to his cause the priest adopted the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe as his banner. On his troops’ standards he inscribed the words: “Long live religion! Long live our most Holy Mother of Guadalupe! Long live King Ferdinand VII! Long live America and death to bad government!”
From Dolores, encouraged by liberal intellectuals and priests, a mob of ranch hands opened the prisons to increase the numbers of partisans of the Revolution. With these unruly troops, Fr. Hidalgo started his march toward the Capital, murdering, looting and stealing along its way. Only in Guanajuato, more than 500 were killed in a wild and bloody massacre. A red terror swept through other towns and villages.
By the time the mob reached Guadalajara, Fr. Hidalgo had accumulated 100,000 men and 95 pieces of artillery. His company, however, was completely disorganized and lacking in military discipline. When he entered into battle with the royalist General Calleja ― who had only 6,000 men ― Fr. Hidalgo suffered a complete defeat. With his lieutenants and 1500 of his mob, he tried to reach the Rio Grande to flee to the United States. But before that he was caught in the desert. In July 1811, less than a year after his Shout of Dolores, he stood before a firing squad, and paid the price of his own blood for the blood of so many innocents that he had shed.
Nonetheless, Fr. Hidalgo’s “grito de Dolores” had planted the seeds of a Mexican revolution that would precipitate “New Spain” (Mexico) into unceasing unrest and troubles for more than a century. It would lead to the implantation of a Masonic Republic that would initiate one of the most atrocious persecutions made directly against the Holy Church. In this persecution the Cristeros would play their unforgettable role.