Tags: Mexican | Protests | Anger | Catholic | Leaders

Mexican Protests Anger Catholic Leaders

Friday, 01 September 2006 12:00 AM

MEXICO CITY -- Mexico's leftist presidential candidate, whose mass street protests over alleged vote fraud have put him at odds with much of the country, has now fallen afoul of the influential Roman Catholic church.

Mexico's top prelate, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, lashed out at Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's supporters this week after some burst into Mexico City's main cathedral and used the sacred image of the Virgin of Guadalupe on protest banners.

Many of Lopez Obrador's supporters back claims that conservative ruling-party rival Felipe Calderon stole the July 2 election, and some see Rivera as favoring Calderon.

Demonstrations backing Lopez Obrador have shut down much of the vast capital, to the outrage of officials and commuters.

Mexico is a predominantly Catholic country whose history is full of episodes of bloody wrangling with the powerful church. It strives to keep religion and politics apart, and clergymen had in recent decades stayed on the sidelines.

But protests that interrupted last Sunday's cathedral mass, and placards depicting the venerated Virgin of Guadalupe posting a ballot for the bombastic left-wing former Mexico City mayor, pushed clerics over the edge.

"We feel offended, we feel hurt, when religious symbols are mistreated, manipulated or ridiculed," Rivera's spokesman Father Hugo Valdemar Romero said of the banner. "Many Catholics who do not support this political movement feel uncomfortable and even offended that it is being used in this way."

The church also condemned the protests at the cavernous metropolitan cathedral, a focal point for the faithful.

Rivera says he is a friend of Lopez Obrador, but he is widely seen as politically conservative and as backing Calderon in the post-election battle, which is why the leftist's supporters stormed the cathedral.

When Lopez Obrador picked up the pace of his street protests, the church tried to cool passions by calling for a week of prayer for "peace and reconciliation".

Political use of Mexico's most idolized religious icon has always been a touchy issue.

Independence heroes Miguel Hidalgo and Jose Maria Morelos famously paraded the virgin's image in their early 19th century struggles, but outgoing President Vicente Fox caused a storm by launching his election campaign with such a banner in 1999.

While the church says it has no preference for any candidate, Felipe Calderon, who is favored by business, is a devout Catholic and his National Action Party has traditionally represented the more conservative values of the church.

A partial vote recount, ordered by Mexico's top election court, did not change the result and its judges are widely expected to name Calderon president-elect in coming days.

Leftists, who say they would go as far as setting up a parallel state to stop Calderon governing, defend their use of Guadalupe, a pervasive icon whose image can be seen hanging in many Mexican homes and stores, from taxi drivers' mirrors and even tattooed across the backs of gang members and prisoners.

Pinned beside a poster of bearded revolutionary Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, the image of the voting Guadalupe adorned a tent wall in a protest camp that has turned much of downtown Mexico City into a pedestrian mall.

"The virgin belongs to all Mexicans," 39-year-old housing advisor and Lopez Obrador supporter Martin Martinez said.

"She is in every home," he said. "We have left our homes and are prepared to fight until the end. If we have her here, she will protect us."

© reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

© 2019 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

   
1Like our page
2Share
Pre-2008
MEXICO CITY -- Mexico's leftist presidential candidate, whose mass street protests over alleged vote fraud have put him at odds with much of the country, has now fallen afoul of the influential Roman Catholic church. Mexico's top prelate, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, lashed...
Mexican,Protests,Anger,Catholic,Leaders
567
2006-00-01
Friday, 01 September 2006 12:00 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved