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Thursday, May 31, 2012

For Greater Glory ...

... is a film about the Cristero War. I won't be watching it, which is sad because I do like Andy Garcia, but I fear this film is a little too much like another, There Be Dragons, the movie about Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer and the Spanish Civil War. Both films were funded by religious organizations - There Be Dragons by Opus Deri and For Greater Glory by the conservative Knights of Columbus.

The thing that gets forgotten in these Catholic film representations of the Spanish Civil War and the Cristero War is that the "bad guys" - the secular anti-Catholic governments - were that way for a reason. At that time, the majority of people in Spain and in Mexico were suffering under totalitarian regimes of wealth and power and the Catholic Church was hand in glove with those regimes. Here's a bit from Wikipedia on Graham Greene's novel, The Power and the Glory, which is set around that time .....

The novel tells the story of a Roman Catholic priest in the state of Tabasco in Mexico during the 1930s, a time when the Mexican government, still effectively controlled by Plutarco Elías Calles, strove to suppress the Catholic Church. Revolutionary leaders during the early 20th century tried to destroy the feudalism that had governed social relations in Mexico for four centuries, with a resulting concentration of land and power among the elites and the church. Calles was just one in a line of anti-clerical leaders who sought to undo this feudal system.

This is not to say that the suppression of religion and the killing of religious was ok, obviously, but a more balanced rendering of the history of those times would be nice ... for instance, it's often overlooked that there were Catholic priests who fought on the side of the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War - Spain: Bishops apologise for Church silence over Civil War killings

Here's the beginning of a review of the movie that goes into the complexities of the situation ......

'For Greater Glory' moving, but glosses over aspects of war

In 1917 the Mexican Constitutional Congress adopted a new constitution. It confirmed the separation of church and state first decreed in the 1857 constitution, returned subsoil rights to the government from ownership and control by foreign corporations, established the basis for secular education, and provided for land reforms. Five articles restricted the power and liberty of the Catholic church. These forbade public worship outside of churches, restricted the church’s right to own property, closed monasteries, deprived clergy of civil rights, forbade the wearing of clerical or religious garb, and banned clergy from criticizing the government or commenting on public affairs in the press.

The rigid enforcement of these laws by President Plutarco Elías Calles led to the civil war known as the Cristero War, 1926-29.

Although this tragic conflict may be unknown by this name to many in the United States, many Catholics do know the story of Jesuit Fr. Miguel Pro (1891-1927) who was shot in November 1927 on the order of Calles under the pretext that Pro was part of a plot to assassinate former President Alvaro Obregón. The church canonized Pro in 1988. Calles ordered that the photographs of his killing were to be spread far and wide to discourage the Cristeros; it had the opposite effect.

The history of Mexico is complex and the Catholic church’s place therein is complicated by its wealth and political influence, which stemmed from large land holdings and control over education .......


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