Mexican Flag Honored in Cathedral

150-Year Taboo Broken

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MEXICO CITY, SEPT. 17, 2002 ( Breaking a 150-year taboo, the archbishop primate of Mexico honored the national flag in the courtyard of the metropolitan cathedral.

A student escort entered the edifice on Sunday bearing the national flag, which was honored by Cardinal Norberto Rivera, auxiliary bishops and the faithful. The congregation sang the national anthem, El Universal newspaper reported.

The hymn was followed by a message, read by the cardinal on the occasion of the 192nd anniversary of Mexican independence.

He appealed to the people to seeks ways of reconciliation and forgiveness, and unity and progress. He concluded exclaiming: «Long live Mexico!» «Long live independence!» «Long live our patriotic symbols!»

Commenting on this unprecedented gesture in modern Mexico, which has strictly interpreted the concept of church-state separation, Father Luis Felipe García, master of ceremonies at the cathedral, said: «We are living in new times.»

«We are about to celebrate 10 years of church-state relations,» he added. «We are not involving ourselves in what is not our domain; we only ask God to bless this nation.»

For most of the 20th century, the Church in Mexico had no juridical recognition. Priests were stripped of most civil rights.

The situation is the legacy of the Reform Laws, which in 1859 confiscated all Church properties. More-radical laws, promulgated in 1910 and 1920, caused one of the bloodiest religious persecutions of the century.

Vicente Fox, the first president in seven decades who is not a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), broke a political taboo last July 30 when he welcomed John Paul II at Mexico’s international airport and kissed his ring.

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