Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Knights' Mexican Martyrs

Having recently been initiated into the Knights of Columbus, I did not know that being a member of that group could be so dangerous at times. There was extreme persecution of Catholics in Mexico during the revolution of the 1920s:
The 1920s brought a revolution to Mexico, along with the widespread persecution of Catholics.

Missionaries were expelled from the country, Catholic seminaries and schools were closed, and the Church was forbidden to own property. Priests and laymen were told to denounce Jesus and their faith in public; if they refused, they faced not just punishment but torture and death.

During this time of oppression and cruelty, the Knights of Columbus did not retreat in Mexico but grew dramatically, from 400 members in 1918 to 43 councils and 6,000 members just five years later. In the United States at the time, the Knights handed out five million pamphlets that described the brutality of the Mexican government toward Catholics. As a result, the Mexican government greatly feared and eventually outlawed the Order.

Thousands of men, many of whom were Knights, would not bow to these threats or renounce their faith, and they often paid with their lives. They took a stand when that was the most difficult thing they could do, and their courage and devotion have echoed down through the decades.

The Mexican constitution is said to be very progressive, with a strong separation of Church and State; so strong, that anything religious outside of a church building is regulated by law, and that ministers can take no stand on political measures. Many here in the United States would love to have these kinds of laws, and are threatening the loss of tax exemptions to churches in order to gain this kind of silence. Mexico, the second-largest Catholic nation, has been long ruled by a non-Catholic elite who impose secularization, and uphold plutarchy and socialism.

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