Pope Benedict XVI is greeted by the crowd as he arrives to celebrate Mass at the Church of St. John Baptist de la Salle in Rome March 4. CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters

Mexican archdiocese says Pope might talk politics during visit

By  David Agren, Catholic News Service
  • March 5, 2012

MEXICO CITY - Pope Benedict XVI might broach the issue of politics during his upcoming visit in Mexico, potentially provoking controversy in a country with a long history of sour church-state relations.

The Archdiocese of Mexico City released an editorial March 4, saying the pontiff could speak on any topic, including politics and social issues affecting country.

"In reality, there are no topics alien to the concern of the church in the midst of society and, therefore, there are no topics that the Pope won't touch in his religious and social message," the diocese said in the editorial titled, "Benedict XVI, Thoughts and Dialogue."

"He might say a word toward our political and social reality, where we place our commitment, all of us Catholics as citizens," it said.

Church-state relations in Mexico have thawed since 1992, when Mexico and the Vatican established diplomatic relations, but prelates preaching politics still cause a stir in some circles.

Any comments made by Pope Benedict will be carefully scrutinized as his visit to the state of Guanajuato March 23-26 comes less than week before the election campaign commences. Mexico's presidential and legislative elections are scheduled for July 1.

In December, Mexico's lower house of Congress approved changes to Article 24 of the constitution to guarantee religious freedom and allow for services to be held outside of authorized churches without first seeking permission from the Interior Ministry.

The measure appears stalled in the Senate, however, as anti-clerical sentiments and church suspicions have emerged.

The church editorial anticipated that criticism of the Pope's message is likely to emerge, too.

"Where there's intelligence, there's dialogue," said the editorial, published in the archdiocesan newspaper Desde la Fe. "Pope Benedict XVI, a man of great intelligence, is someone very much willing to engage a respectful, reasonable and clear dialogue."

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