By KELIN DILLON
After repeated tension between the Catholic Church and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) throughout the latter’s presidency, the president of the National Confraternity of Christian and Evangelical Churches (Confraternice), Arturo Farela Gutiérrez. has spoken out against the Church’s repeated distancing from López Obrador, claiming that it’s looking to “set the country on fire” through the ecclesiastical hierarchy, while going on to deny that Mexico’s demonstrated violence crisis, which has only increased under AMLO, exists.
Mexico is the second largest Catholic country in the world after Brazil, with more than 78 percent of the country self-identifying as Catholic during the 2020 census. For his part, AMLO has previously shied away from questions from the press asking if he is a member of the Catholic Church, instead classifying himself as a “a follower of the thought and work of Jesus.”
Members of the Catholic Church have expressed their displeasure with AMLO’s policies in the face of the murder of two Jesuit priests this past June, including Cuernavaca Bishop Ramón Castro Castro, who characterized López Obrador’s “hugs, not bullets” policy against violence as one of “demagoguery and complicity” with organized crime.
In response, AMLO condemned Castro’s words as “anti-Christian,” saying that “a priest, a bishop or a pastor cannot say that violence has to be resolved with violence,” and went on to add that “everything that has to do with violence is anti-religious and, especially, it is anti-Christian, theologically speaking.”
“What do the priests want? That we solve problems with violence? Are we going to wager on war?” questioned López Obrador. “Why didn’t the Church act with former Mexican President (Felipe) Calderón this way? Why did it remain silent when the massacres were ordered? Why this hypocrisy? That should not be allowed to anyone, much less a member of the clergy, whether he is a pastor of an evangelical churc, or a priest.”
Now, Mexican Protestant Christian leader Farela has spoken out against the Catholic Church’s purported distancing from AMLO, characterizing the Catholic figures’ criticisms as in “very bad taste and frankly wrong” and as “baseless, without reasons and without arguments.”
“With this, we can realize that the Catholic hierarchy does not want the good of Mexico,” he said.
“Since López Obrador won, a rejection was seen from an important sector of the Catholic hierarchy, I do not know if that is the reason why the president has not received them as the presidents of past six-year terms did before, without ceasing to be a secular country. The Catholic hierarchy intends to set the country on fire.”
Farela went on to say: “The Church are not governed by what it should teach, which is the Bible as the word of God. In the Bible, we find a maxim of Jesus Christ that says: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’. If the Catholic bishops had Christian practices and teachings, they would stop not only criticizing the public policies of the federal government, but they themselves would be giving opinions based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, and they do not do so.”
Farela doubled down on his claims that there is “peace” in Mexico and there is no armed organized crime in the country, despite the fact that AMLO’s presidency is on track to become the most violent in recent history and the nation’s homicide rate only continues to climb.
“Today’s Mexico is very different, now it is an institutional country that adheres to respect for the rule of law. For this reason, we must support the president and stop making those destructive criticisms of him. This must be done, but in a constructive way to help him,” concluded Farela.