Cardinal Rivera Defends Bishops' Statements

Says They Have Not Meddled in Mexican Party Politics

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MEXICO CITY, JUNE 5, 2003 ( Mexico’s archbishop primate defended the statements by some bishops, saying that they are not interfering in the country’s electoral campaign but expressing principles of Catholic morality which are also defended by the Constitution.

The controversy arose when certain political parties denounced the bishops to the Electoral Affairs Attorney’s Office for allegedly violating the law that impedes the clergy from commenting on electoral issues.

The bishops limited themselves to point out to the faithful that a Christian must not vote for parties that promote abortion, homosexual unions, and genetic manipulation.

At the end of Mass on Sunday, the nation’s primate, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, pointed out to the press the existing accord between Mexican civil legislation and the Code of Canon Law, which also impedes propaganda, opposition or partisanship in an electoral contest.

At the same time, the cardinal stated that both the civil and ecclesiastical rules «defend every human being’s right to freedom of expression and religious liberty.»

«I think that in a society like the Mexican, freedom of expression and religious liberty cannot be proclaimed for some while for others there is a gag law,» he noted.

The cardinal said that he had read the bishops’ addresses and «not one of them refers to a single party or person.»

«They mention principles that are fundamental to our belief, which the Mexican Constitution also defends. It defends the right to life, the dignity of the family and of marriage,» he said.

Last week, the government secretariat went so far as to exhort the bishops to abstain from «interfering» in the electoral process, and stressed the possibility that at least five bishops might be sanctioned.

Mexico is preparing for midterm elections, scheduled for July 6, which will renew municipal presidencies, some state governments, and the country’s Chamber of Deputies, which until now has been dominated by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

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