Monday, November 23, 2009

Militant Atheist Terror Twentieth Century Style

Today is the feast day of Miguel Pro, a young Mexican Jesuit priest and one of the personae of this blog. Writing in 1939, Graham Greene observed that the militant atheist dictator President Calles of Mexico embarked on the fiercest persecution of religion anywhere since the reign of Elizabeth I (aka 'Good' Queen Bess). Calles ruthlessly enforced the anti-Catholic provisions of the 1917 Mexican constitution, which among other things prohibited the Church from involvement in primary and secondary education and made secular education mandatory. It is chilling that atheists in the twenty first century, closer to home, have expressed similar ambitions for secular only education (see Friday's blog below). During the terror of the Mexican regime, churches were closed and mass had to be said in secret. Priests and religious were arrested and executed. Administering the sacraments was a capital offense but Miguel Pro was undeterred from offering the mass and continually outwitted the military police, at times disguising himself as one of them! He was an extraordinary and brave character. According to one of his biographers, he 'had a case filled with disguises, false mustaches, putty noses, spectacles of all kinds, costumes from dungarees to morning coats, and a rubber face that could flicker from peon to patrician in an instant, no matter what the clothes.' He was in disguise when Calles' henchmen eventually caught up with and arrested him. The priest was accused by the state on trumped up charges, no evidence was brought against him, and he had no trial. He was shot dead by firing squad on the 23rd November 1927.

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