Sunday, July 12, 2009


According to the local paper, there is a special bullfight two Saturdays from now "commemorating the 468th anniversary of the founding of Querétaro" - which, as any gringo tourist knows, took place on July 25, 1531. We were planning to write a smart-assed post suggesting that, unless the bullfight is being held in a parallel universe where it's always 1999, it's really a bullfight in honor of the 10th anniversary of the 468th anniversary of the founding of Querétaro. But picking on the local papers is kind of a cheap sport, and we thought better of it - until we saw a bullfighting website reporting the same thing, with pictures from the press conference, which lead us to the only possible conclusion: that the queretanos responsible for an event in honor of the city's founding threw a press conference in which they got the date of the city's founding (which, being an event in honor of the anniversary of the city's founding, is not an incidental bit of trivia but, rather, the central fact driving the press conference) wrong, and the assembled queretano press - and their supervisors and copy editors - simply ran with the incorrect number.

Which seems like nitpicking, of course, except that we're always being told - and we believe it to be true - that "Mexicans know their history." What will be interesting to us is to see whether they just stick to this 468 thing for the duration of the bullfight. Presumably the posters have already been printed up.

We probably wouldn't have paid much attention to this except we were already scratching our heads over another bit of Mexican history - the 150th Anniversary of the Reform Laws, which, though you might never know it if you were waiting for any sort of public or official acknowledgment, is actually today.

It's hard to think of another country that was so heavily controlled by a religious entity (in this case, the Catholic Church) and that so radically and suddenly handed that entity a steaming platter of Shut the Fuck Up the way Mexico did 150 years ago today. The law passed on July 12, 1859, [excerpted below] basically nationalized all Church property (with the exception of actual churches) and suppressed religious orders. Additional laws nationalized cemeteries, separated Church and State, made births, deaths and marriages civil functions and allowed other religions to exist. Regardless of whether one feels this was just (and the violence that followed in the wake of this is enough to give even our atheistic hearts a slight pause), it was an enormous event in the history of this country, an unquestionable boon to the modernization of the nation, and is, for reasons we don't fully understand, being completely ignored on its sesquicentennial.

Law of July 12, 1859,

Art. 5. All the male religious orders which exist throughout the republic, whatever their name or the purpose of their existence, are hereby suppressed throughout the whole republic, as also all archconfraternities, confraternities, congregations, or sisterhoods annexed to the religious communities cathedrals parishes, or any other churches.

Art. 6. The foundation or erection of new convents of regulars, archconfraternities, confraternities, congregations, or sisterhoods, under whatever form or name is given them, is prohibited, likewise the wearing of the garb or habit of the suppressed orders.

Art. 7. By this law the ecclesiastics of the suppressed orders are reduced to the condition of secular clergy, and shall, like these, be subject as regards the exercise of their ministry to the ordinaries of their respective dioceses.

Art. 12. All books, printed or manuscript, paintings, antiquities, and other articles belonging to the suppressed religious communities shall be given to museums, lyceums, libraries, and other public establishments...All novitiates for women are perpetually closed. Those at present in novitiates cannot be professed.


Anonymous said...

Are these laws still in existance? Mexico seems to practice it's religion pretty openly today.


Richard said...

None of those laws prevent the PRACTICE of religion, merely remove religion from economic and political power in theory... the churches still find ways to maintain power, especially through the pro-clerical PAN party). Juarez, thanks to these laws, is almost a "saint" to non-Catholics, for liberating them from persecution.