MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s Catholic hierarchy wants school textbooks to be changed to reflect that two priests who played a leading role in the country’s independence struggle did not die in a state of excommunication.
The issue concerns the Rev. Miguel Hidalgo (1753-1811), who led the pro-independence army until he was captured and executed by colonial authorities, and the Rev. Jose Maria Morelos, his successor as rebel commander.
Both clerics were excommunicated for their political activism, but the director of the Historical Archive of the Archdiocese of Mexico City, Gustavo Watson, said that documents showed the two men made confession prior to their executions.
“Another piece of evidence that they were not excommunicated is that they were buried in church ground, something that in that time would never have occurred with an excommunicated person,” Watson said, as reported in the newspaper Cronica.
In his opinion, one cannot lose one’s priestly character through any kind of ceremony, but rather it remains as such forever, and he added that “despite the (act of excommunication), Hidalgo and Morelos died as priests of the Catholic Church.”
In October 2007, a congressional committee charged with supporting the celebration of the 2010 Bicentennial of Independence and the Centennial of the Mexican Revolution asked the Catholic Church to clarify whether the two men were or were not excommunicated.
Hidalgo was excommunicated on Sept. 24, 1810, by Bishop Manuel Abad y Queipo, and that sanction was confirmed at the time by the bishops of the Mexican capital and the western city of Guadalajara.
In the minds of many Mexicans, the idea remained that the priests who participated in the struggle for independence died in a state of excommunication.
Therefore, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, archbishop of Mexico City, created a historical review commmittee to document the determination that the men died as members of the Catholic Church thanks to their pre-execution confessions. EFE