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Una Iglesia Más Mexicana: Catholics, Schismatics, and the Mexican Revolution in Texas, 1927-1932 Kristin Cheasty Miller M arch 16, 1930 was a dreary Sunday in San Antonio, Texas. It was raining. It had, in fact, been raining almost continuously for three days—a remarkable occasion in what is normally a rather dry and sunny climate. Surprisingly, instead of dashing about under umbrellas or hiding away indoors on this rainy afternoon, much of the Mexican working-class community of San Antonio held a parade. Impervious to the inclement weather, hundreds of people gathered to follow bugles and drums, an honor guard, and a marching band through the rain to the train station because this, for them was a landmark day. Don José Joaquín Pérez Budar, the archbishop and patriarch of the politically and religiously controversial Mexican Catholic Apostolic Church (ICAM), was finally coming from Mexico City to meet his followers in Texas.1 In both Mexico and in Texas, the schismatic Mexican Catholic Apostolic Church has largely vanished from historical memory. This all-but-forgotten movement, however , sits at the crux of many critical narratives in the history of post-revolutionary Mexico, and in the history of Mexican immigration to the United States during that same time. This article examines the popularity of the ICAM in Texas within the context of contested national and class identities for the Mexican working class living in Texas. It also examines the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church in the United States and these marginalized, often impoverished, Mexican immigrants, particularly in light of changing demographics and the resultant shift in political power in local communities. In addition, this study argues that the Roman Catholic Church’s antagonism toward the newly installed “revolutionary” government of Mexico nega45 1. “Viene el Patriarca Pérez a San Antonio,” El Heraldo Mexicano, (San Antonio, Texas), March 17, 1930, microfilm. Note: The name of this church in Spanish is the Iglesia Católica Apostólica Mexicana, although at different points it went by a variety of names. Fully conflated, this church organization’s name was the Iglesia Católica Ortodóxa Apostólica Nacional Mexicana. There was a great deal of changeability in the name; ICAM, however, is the simplest and most consistently used appelation to use for this paper. tively impacted local relations between Roman Catholic religious leadership and the often “revolutionized” Mexican working class that moved into Texas during the 1920s. In Mexico, the ICAM was a contentious movement that divided communities more often than it united them. In February 1925, several erstwhile Catholic priests and a few dozen followers declared a break with Rome, and founded a uniquely Mexican and nationalist church that redressed many of the revolutionary anti-clerical concerns of the day. This politico-religious movement sought fundamentally to change the way Mexican religious life operated by linking religious practice with Mexican political leadership, nationalism, and liberalism and supposedly reforming it in the process. Initially, the ICAM attempted to take over churches by force, but the Catholic middle class fought back. Militant Catholic defense leagues immediately formed around the country to defend local communities against the schismatic movement . In urban areas, pitched street battles and riots punctuated the rather dramatic trajectory of the ICAM’s attempt to convert the post-revolutionary Mexican nation to this nationalist religious movement. Though middle and upper classes remained overtly hostile to the proselytization efforts of ICAM priests, in rural areas peasants converted to the ICAM in small, but significant, numbers throughout Mexico. This was particularly true in regions where conservative Catholic landowners and clergy battled peasant smallholders over constitutionally -mandated agrarian reforms. The government of President Plutarco Elías Calles offered limited support for the ICAM, a policy in line with his assertive anticlerical legislation, but the Roman Catholic leadership attacked the ICAM on every front, summarily excommunicating ICAM members, organizing Catholic defense organizations, and publishing numerous vitriolic articles in the conservative press. The ICAM eventually established a foothold in Mexico during the Cristero Rebellion, but its path to that point was thorny, to say the least. In Texas, however, the ICAM received a notably warmer reception; indeed, Mexican citizens already familiar with the nationalist...


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