Rorate Caeli

Strong words from Rome to
the Revolutionary Church of the Zapatistas

In the post-Conciliar age, there were few experiments as wild as that of the Iglesia Autóctona ("Autochthonous" or "Native Church"), in the state of Chiapas, in southern Mexico (the old Diocese of Chiapas, since 1964 named Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas).

Bishop Samuel Ruiz García was appointed by Pope John XXIII in 1959, a 35-year-old priest at the time, and shaped the Church in that part of the world for more than 40 years (including 22 years during the pontificate of John Paul II), aided by his own view of the Council, which he attended, as a complete rupture with the past.

Ruiz was one of those radical "Nativist" bishops, who inspired the spirit of Medellín (the meeting of Latin American bishops in the troubled year of 1968 in the city of Medellín, Colombia, which established the episcopal bases for Liberation Theology) and took "inculturation" to its ultimate consequences. One of the most crucial aspects of his Iglesia Autóctona was the establishment of permanent deacons, elected by each native tribe, and ordained by him to minister to the community -- with the expectation of, perhaps, being ordained to the priesthood.

The other major aspect of his time as bishop was to link the Church in Chiapas to the several local Marxist-inspired guerrillas, especially the EZLN, the well-known Zapatistas.

Ruiz resigned when he turned 75 and was replaced by Felipe Arizmendi. Soon afterwards, the Vatican received an interesting report: during Ruiz's tenure, 8 (eight) priests had been ordained, compared to 400 permanent deacons, chosen by their tribes. After this, the Vatican suspended, for an indefinite time, the ordination of permanent deacons in the Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas.

Last Wednesday, the left-wing Mexican daily La Jornada published a report mentioning that Arizmendi had asked the Vatican to lift the suspension. The Holy See responded:

In a document dated October 26, 2005, signed by its prefect, Cardinal Francis Arinze, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments presents four reasons to [keep the suspension] of the ordination of native permanent deacons.

First: "It cannot be ignored -- says the text -- that even five years after the departure of His Excellency, Bishop Samuel Ruiz, from San Cristóbal de las Casas, the ideology which promotes the implementation of an Iglesia Autóctona is still latent in the diocese." Second: there is a "basic ideological problem" and no ordinations shall take place until it is solved. Third: "to nurture among the faithful expectations which are contrary to the Magisterium and to Tradition, as is the case of a permanent diaconate directed towards the married priesthood, places the Holy See in a position of being forced to reject the various petitions and pressures, by this way looking intolerant". Fourth: there should not be deacons "by community designation, but by official call by the Church" and they require "a solid intellectual formation, guided by the Holy See".
Arizmendi, named by John Paul II in 2000, seemed disappointed with this Roman response, which he received "with pain and sadness".


Author said...

The evangelical sects have made huge inroads into Chiapas and now it seems some of the indigenous people are turning to Islam. What a disaster!

Br. Alexis Bugnolo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Br. Alexis Bugnolo said...

The condemnation of this:

"to nurture among the faithful expectations which are contrary to the Magisterium and to Tradition"

is something that needs to be applied universally, by actions, not words.

The Church will be in crisis, until the Pope realizes he needs to be a shepherd and not a diplomat. A shepherd not only needs to caress some sheep, but hit the bad ones with his staff and drive the wolves away, even at the risk of his being wounded mortally.

O, Divine Shepherd, give us a courageous holy Pope!

Iosephus said...


CS said...

Sad how the people have fallen into revolutionary/Marxist ideologies, so un-Catholic in the extreme.

It's so ingrained in Latin America now that it's going to be hard to shake it loose.