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Church and State in Mexico: the American Mediation

Courtesy Reuters

ON June 21, 1929, President Portes Gil and Archbishop Ruiz y Flores issued separate public declarations which ended the latest phase of the long conflict between the Mexican Government and the Catholic Church. These declarations were the outcome of an effort at mediation undertaken by Ambassador Dwight W. Morrow following an interview he had had with Father John J. Burke, C.S.P., the General Secretary of the Catholic Welfare Conference. The suggestion of this interview was made to him in October 1927 by Cardinal Hayes and Judge Morgan J. O'Brien of New York. The negotiations were conducted in the first instance by Father Burke and President Calles. They were facilitated and directed by Mr. Morrow; they resulted in an understanding which was reached by Father Burke and President Calles at their secret meeting in Vera Cruz on April 4, 1928. With only slight alterations this was the understanding to which President Portes Gil and Archbishop Ruiz, acting with authority from the Holy See, gave their public approval fifteen months later.

The history of this mediation is a notable chapter both in the history of Mexico and in the history of American diplomacy. No one is in a position today to write a definitive account of the matter. The records are in the archives of the Mexican Government, of private individuals in Mexico, of the Mexican hierarchy, of the American hierarchy, and of the Vatican. They have not been assembled and they are not available as yet to the historian. The data available are, nevertheless, sufficient to attempt a contemporary interpretation. It has been my privilege to observe certain aspects of the negotiation, and to know some of the principals in it. The data which I shall use have all at one time or another been published, and all that I could or shall attempt to do is to arrange them in such order as may bring out their significance. I have, for example, already referred to a secret meeting at Vera Cruz between Father Burke

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