[map of Mexico] Republic in North America, south of the United States. Early explorers found among the natives traditions, apparently Christian, which are believed by some to indicate that at least one missionary, of unknown origin, had preached in Mexico in the 11th century or earlier. Beginning in the 16th century the Spanish explorers and conquerors brought many prieats and friars, and a Bull issued by Pope Paul III in 1537 declared, against the common opinion, that the Indians were rational beings, recognizing them as capable of receiving the Christian Faith and its sacraments, and as having equal rights with white men. The visions appearing in 1531 to Juan Diego, an Indian neophyte, were a stimulus to the conversion of his people and are still commemorated at the shrine of Guadalupe. Many churches, hospitals, asylums, monasteries, and schools were built, and long remained, under the patronage and partly under the control of the Spanish Crown. There were various kinds of schools; Bishop Zumarraga, the first Bishop of Mexico, who bore also the title Protector of the Indians, established eight or nine schools for Indian girls, and in 1530-1534 he had twelve women teachers brought to them from Europe. The Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico was opened in 1553, and continued work until the middle of the 19th century. The first seven dioceses were suffragan to the Archdiocese of Seville, Spain, until 1545; in that year the Diocese of Mexico was made an archdiocese with authority over the other six and those subsequently formed, including, in 1581, the Diocese of Manila in the Philippines. The independence of Mexico was proclaimed in 1810 by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and was established by the revolution in which he and another priest, Jose Morelos y Pavon, were the earliest leaders. The Constitution of 1857, and laws passed during the next few years decreed the separation of Church and State and placed severe restrictions on the Church. They suppressed all religious orders and congregations, confiscated a large amount of Church property, including charitable institutions, forbade religious demonstrations in any place outside the church buildings which were reserved for such use by the government, and prohibited religious instruction in federal, state, and municipal schools. For long periods these laws were not enforced, but they were eventually revived. The Constitution of 1917 gives to federal and state authorities power to regulate religious worship in many ways; to limit the number of priests and their activities; to limit and specify the hours for religious services; priests are not allowed to vote; they must register as required by the government; foreigners are not to be permitted to administer; religious periodicals are not allowed to publish information or comment on political affairs; no church may own or administer real property; places of public worship are the property of the nation as represented by the federal government; and no trial by jury shall be granted for infraction of these provisions. These and similar laws were put strictly in force, 1927, and Catholic priests and laymen, women especiaIly, were subjected to barbarous persecution. In July 1929, largely through the efforts of the American Ambassador, Dwight W. Morrow, this persecution came to an end. An agreement was reached between the President, Emilio Portes Gil, and the Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Leopold Ruiz y Flores, allowing the Catholic hierarchy to designate the priests who are to register, permitting religious instruction in the churches, acknowledging the right of Mexican prelates to apply for modifications of the Constitution.

Archdioceses, past and present, include Dioceses, past and present, include: Other ecclesiastical divisions include, See also,
New Catholic Dictionary

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