National League for the Defense of Religious Liberty

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National League for the Defense of Religious Liberty (Liga Nacional Defensora de la Libertad Religiosa - LNDLR) or National League for the Defense of Religious Freedom was a Mexican Catholic religious civil rights organization formed in March 1925 that played a crucial role in the Cristero War of 1926-1929.[1] The Mexico City-based organization[2] was created by former members of the short-lived National Catholic Party (Partido Católico Nacional),[3] the Union of Mexican Catholic Ladies (Unión de Damas Católicas Mexicanas); a student organization, the Jesuit-led Catholic Association of Mexican Youth (Asociación Católica de la Juventud Mexicana, ACJM); the Knights of Columbus; the National Parents' Association; and the National Catholic Labor Confederation.[4] The League had by June of its founding year about 36,000 members and chapters in almost every state of the country.[5] The organization arose after the anti-clerical provisions of the 1917 Mexican Constitution were strictly enforced by the fiercely anti-Catholic President Plutarco Calles and after he enacted further draconian provisions in the Calles Law.[6]

The LNDLR, along with the Catholic hierarchy, initially advocated peaceful resistance to the Calles Laws including a boycott of tax payment and nonessential goods and a petition drive to rescind the offending constitutional provisions. When the Church failed to obtain a compromise from Calles, the Mexican hierarchy ordered the priests to go on strike beginning July 31, 1926, the day the Calles Law was to go into effect.[7]

Soon after the clerical strike began on July 31, 1926, sporadic popular uprisings began and beginning in September 1926 the LNDLR began to discuss revolt, but they maintained the policy of boycott.[8] As the popular uprisings continued, especially in Jalisco and Colima, despite the lack of formal support from the bishops, the LNDLR advocated on January 1, 1927, open rebellion to overthrow the regime and institute a new constitution with guarantees of religious freedom.[9]

While the LNDLR served the purpose of giving the rebelling peasants organizational structure and military guidance, the onset, development and character of the war were more rooted in grass roots circumstance and groups.[10] At first the rebellion was only able to sustain suppression in a half dozen western states where there was intense popular support and the organizational aid of local groups, the Popular Union (UP), initially spearheaded by Anacleto González Flores and the covert U, with cells dispersed throughout Jalisco and Michoacan.[11]

In 1927, the LNDLR reorganized the rebellion in the west and, in August 1928, gave the rebellion its first military leader, the well experienced soldier who had fought in the Federal Army under Huerta, but anticlerical and mercenary, General Enrique Gorostieta, who was a 33rd degree Mason.[12][13] The Cristeros began to engage in large scale military assaults.[14]

The LNDLR were excluded from any participation in the peace negotiations between the Mexican State and the Church. They rejected the argument of the Archbishop of Mexico, Pascual Díaz, "that the Cristeros were doomed to failure because they lacked the two critical elements: adequate military resources and the diplomatic support of the United States government.[15] Alberto María Carreño, who was close to the archbishop of Mexico, "questioned the morality of continuing a war that could not be won."[16]

After intense and lengthy negotiations by the U.S. ambassador Dwight W. Morrow, an accord (Arreglos) acceptable to both Calles and the Catholic hierarchy was reached and the bishops ordered the LNDLR to cease military and political activities and the Cristeros to lay down their weapons.[17] A number of Cristeros continued fighting, in what some have called "La Segunda", that is the second Cristiada, but they did so without the support of the Church.[18] The LNDLR's criticisms of the episcopal hierarchy's signing on to the Arreglos were blunted given the Vatican's support of the diplomatic accord, but also because Catholic Action, a new lay group firmly under the hierarchy's control, was used to rein in radicalized Catholic organizations following the Arreglos.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Werner, Michael S., Concise encyclopedia of Mexico p. 147, Taylor & Francis, 2001
  2. ^ Tuck, Jim, The Anti-clerical Who Led a Catholic Rebellion, Latin American Studies
  3. ^ Jennie Purnell, "Cristero Rebellion", in Encyclopedia of Mexico. Vol. 1, p. 372. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn 1997.
  4. ^ David Espinosa, Jesuit Student Groups, the Universidad Iberoamericana, and Political Resistance in Mexico, 1913-1979. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press 2014, p. 38.
  5. ^ Werner, Michael S., Concise encyclopedia of Mexico p. 147, Taylor & Francis, 2001
  6. ^ Werner, Michael S., Concise encyclopedia of Mexico p. 147, Taylor & Francis, 2001
  7. ^ Werner, Michael S., Concise encyclopedia of Mexico p. 147, Taylor & Francis, 2001
  8. ^ Purnell, "Cristero Rebellion" p. 375
  9. ^ Purnell, "Cristero Rebellion", p. 375.
  10. ^ Werner, Michael S., Concise encyclopedia of Mexico p. 148, Taylor & Francis, 2001
  11. ^ Werner, Michael S., Concise encyclopedia of Mexico p. 148, Taylor & Francis, 2001
  12. ^ Tuck, Jim, The Anti-clerical Who Led a Catholic Rebellion, Latin American Studies
  13. ^ Werner, Michael S., Concise encyclopedia of Mexico p. 148, Taylor & Francis, 2001
  14. ^ Werner, Michael S., Concise encyclopedia of Mexico p. 148, Taylor & Francis, 2001
  15. ^ Espinosa, Jesuit Student Groups, p. 47.
  16. ^ Espinosa, Jesuit Student Groups, pp. 154-55, n. 60.
  17. ^ Purnell, "Cristero Rebellion", p. 377.
  18. ^ Purnell, "Cristero Rebellion," p. 377.
  19. ^ Espinosa, Jesuit Student Groups, p. 56.