The twentieth century was witness to the rise of three political ideologies that brought destruction and death to the world and persecution to the Catholic Church. Communism, National Socialism, and Fascism may appear to be at odds in their teachings, but each of these ideologies has the same fundamental worldview: the individual is subservient to the state. Anyone or anything that stood in opposition to this fundamental tenet was an enemy of the state.
As the ideologies took root in numerous countries of the world, their leaders and supporters sought to discredit and limit the power of the Catholic Church, which in some cases produced violent and bloody persecution. The year 1917 was critical. The same year in which Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children in Portugal was witness to the rise of the Bolsheviks in Russia as well as the establishment of a socialist, anti-Catholic constitution in a Catholic country visited by the Blessed Mother in centuries past: Mexico.
The 1917 Mexican Constitution was the fruit of the Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910. The constitution was designed to radically alter Mexican government and culture by placing severe restrictions on the Catholic Church. The constitution mandated a secular education in all schools and outlawed Catholic schools (unless they used a purely secular curriculum), outlawed monastic orders, forbade public worship outside the confines of churches, placed restrictions on owning property by religious groups, and attacked Catholic clergy. Priests were forbidden to wear clerical attire, stripped of their right to vote, and forbidden to comment on public affairs and criticize government officials. The constitution also outlawed the presence of foreign missionary clergy in Mexico. Although the new constitution severely restricted religious practice in the country, enforcement of the anti-Catholic articles was loose until 1924, when Plutarco Calles was elected president.
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