Mar 15, 2012
Mexico Politics: Understanding Benedict XVI’s visit to Mexico
Before presidential elections, everything that happens in Mexico has electoral connotations. The upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI is far from being an exception. The following is our translation of the first part of an opinion piece from La Jornada.
La Jornada: The Pope is coming to Mexico, not just to pray and offer comfort and hope to a people wounded by daily violence and insecurity. There is an undeniable political dimension to the visit that those involved in his visit see to mask. Here we break down some of the key points of Benedict XVI’s first and probably only visit to Mexico.
1. It will be a pastoral and political visit.
The Pope’s visit comes in the middle of the electoral process; it’s no accident, much less an innocent coincidence. Interests are intertwined to create a win-win situation--the government of Felipe Calderon seek the pontifical blessing and legitimacy for his controversial strategy to combat crime to quell questions just as his term comes to an end, to be less vulnerable to electoral positions and speeches. The Catholic hierarchy, on the other hand, benefits from the visit: it will strengthen its attempt to politicize its morality campaigns, not only against abortion, new kinds of couples and defense of the family, but also regarding the debate over freedom of religion where it seeks more room for institutional intervention in society. Nor is an accident that the rush-- to the point of violating procedures—of legislators to pass Article 24 of the Constitution. This legislative fast-track proves there were behind-the-scenes deals. Why the hurry and what were the conditions of this agreement?
2. Electoral battle over Catholic political influence
Clearly, Josefina Vázquez Mota and the PAN would benefit due to their ideological discourses similar to the Pope’s. However, in the face of the political class’s pragmatism, one can expect anything. Peña Nieto’s PRI has been shown to be as conservative when it comes to religious matters as the PAN, even separating itself from its liberal, secular past. It could well claim part of the Pope’s doctrinal legacy. The political calculus dominates as candidates scramble to gain the limelight. In that vein, even Andrés Manuel López, with his “loving republic,” has requested a meeting with Benedict XVI. Is there a Catholic vote, and how much weight does the Catholic hierarchy have to influence voters? In any case, we hope that the politicians who are so excited by the Pope’s visit take note of the references between ethics and power, values and politics, which Benedict XVI will undoubtedly address... Spanish original
By Bernardo Barranco V.