To recap from part one: The 90 years of Catholicism in Mexico from 1821 to 1911 was a running gun battle between the Church, with conservative factions and a Liberal Reform movement heavily influenced by Masonic ideals and occasionally even led by Freemasons.
The see-saw struggle ground to an armistice of sorts in the 1870s under Porforio Diaz, where anti-clerical laws remained on the books but were unenforced. This arrangement lasted until 1911, when the simmering antipathies that were never resolved finally boiled over.
Porfiro Diaz was technically an elected executive, but in practice a de facto autocrat. In the beginning of the 20th century, he was rapidly approaching 80, and his political acumen was slipping. If he didn’t step down, a succession crisis was imminent. After some waffling, he decided to run again and was elected in a blatantly rigged election. His opponent, Francisco Madero, along with his allies, revolted.
Diaz was overthrown Madero elected to the Presidency in a second election at the end of 1911, but the cat was out of the bag. Madero was an amatuer politician and his sloppy attempts to tie up loose ends actually sparked numerous local rebellions.
Madero was no friend of the Church, but permitted political participation by Catholic political organizations in the government.
In 1913, Madero was betrayed and assassinated by General José Victoriano Huerta, triggering a new and deadly phase of the revolution. Huerta was a conservative reactionary, albeit out of pragmatism not ideology, and the local hierarchy would make the dreadful mistake of backing him.
Not only was Huerta’s bloody coup distasteful but he revealed himself to be an awful politician who had little skill in compromise and embraced the use of force with glee. He referred to his policies as “the Iron Hand” or La Mano Dura and swelled the Federal Army of Mexico to gigantic proportions. Huerta blew off his allies and even his own ministers and began to literally attack his problems with an army that had ballooned to such cartoonish proportions that prisons were emptied and individuals press ganged to bloat it further.
What the army had in size it lacked in competence and, in 1914, after only 17 months, the hated Huerta was deposed and fled into exile.
But this did not bring peace.
The Revolutionaries quickly turned on each other and it would be another year of fighting before the Constitutionalists prevailed over the Zapatistas in 1915. The Zapatistas turned to guerilla warfare, and violence would continue until 1920. But from this point on, the Constitutionalists were running the show.
The Church was now in a very awkward position, having managed to back two losers. Diaz was at least respected as a capable leader, but Heurta was an absolute disgrace and the hierarchy’s brief association was not forgotten by the triumphant revolutionaries.
To help cement the status of the new government, the constitutionalists sought to create a new Constitution that would formalize the ideals of nationalism and liberalism into the very framework of the nation. The Church had proven itself an enemy to both concepts and, combined with its recent association with Huerta, it would prove costly.
The constitution, ratified in 1917, was even more anticlerical than the constitution of 1857. All religious education was to be abolished. Property rights were restricted. Clergy were prohibited from speaking out against the government. Worship could not occur outside church buildings. Hospitals and schools were nationalized, and the Mexican government was to be the primary arbiter of religion in the country.
The effect was an ingenious situation where the laws didn’t abolish Catholicism, but prevented it from being actually lived out. Should the laws be enforced, it would effectively abolish Catholicism, even if that did not explicitly do so.
Fortunately, for almost a decade, an arrangement similar to the Diaz regime existed. The laws remained on the books, but were not enforced. But by the mid-1920s, the political situation stabilized enough for the government to turn its attention to suppressing the Faith. A new player, Plutarco Calles, would ascend to power. He was a freemason with a personal animus against the Church stemming from his status as an illegitimate child. One hundred years of poor political bets, masonic influence and instability created the conditions where Callas could take a terrible revenge.