Mexican Bishop Calls for More Religious Liberty

Church Should Have Its Own Media, Says Chiapas Prelate

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MEXICO CITY, JUNE 26, 2002 ( Mexican legislation should increase religious liberty so that the Catholic Church can have its own media and access to schools, says a bishop in Chiapas.

During his homily Sunday, Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel of San Cristobal de las Casas said that the constitutional reform that regulated religious liberty was not «a gracious concession of government leaders and lawmakers 10 years ago, nor a way of buying the silence of the Catholic hierarchy, so that we would overlook anything that was less correct.»

«Even without constitutional changes, to preach the Gospel is a right and duty, despite the persecutory and restrictive laws weighing us down,» Bishop Arizmendi said. «We request greater religious liberty to preach the Gospel in the media and also in the schools.»

He added: «This Gospel is also useful for politics, the economy, culture, education, art, international relations, systems and structures.»

In this connection, Bishop Arizmendi said, «Jesus Christ speaks of God the Father, of faith, of prayer, but he also denounces the sin of the unrighteous and condemns the arbitrariness of the rich and powerful vis-à-vis the poor.»

However, «some are surprised that we often denounce corruption, the injustices committed against peasants, Indians, workers, prisoners and migrants, the abuses of some policemen, the excessive presence of the army in Chiapas communities, and the arbitrariness of some government leaders,» the bishop continued.

Bishop Arizmendi said that they «would like us to be silent and never speak about this,» adding that, perhaps, «their conscience is not free of the social sins of our time.»

There «are enemies of the Church who are surprised that we bishops make our presence felt in the media, and that we urge a revision of the laws, so that religious associations will be able to own massive means of communication,» he noted.

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