The Mexican constitution of 1917 -- socialist at its core -- sparked this terrible conflict. It put the Church under the strict control of the State: it regulated Catholic preaching, allotted a fixed number of priests per state, dictated Mass attendance, baptisms, weddings, the Sacraments, and tithing. Even the ringing of Church bells was hampered, and prelates caught disobeying these unjust laws were exiled or killed.Share
The president at the time, Venustiano Carranza, did not immediately enforce the anti-Catholic laws, but showed temporary tolerance. When Plutarco Elías Calles took power in 1920, however, the new constitution was brutally enforced. Calles sent more than two hundred priests into exile, along with a number of archbishops and bishops.
The worst persecution was unleashed by the iniquitous Ley Calles (Calles Law) of July 31, 1926. It prohibited the practice of the Catholic religion in public. All education was removed from the care of the Church and put under direct State control. Religious vows were illegal. Monasteries and convents were dissolved, and religious could no longer use habits. Church property was confiscated.
Moreover, it was illegal for anyone, especially priests, to speak out against the government or the constitution. Priests wishing to exercise their ministry had to ask the State for permission. Frequently, this “permission” was not granted. Finally, those who did not obey these immoral laws were fined or imprisoned. A “serious” or repeated offense often meant execution. (Read more.)