Cardinal Arizmendi: Bishops facing the National reality

Being close to our people, in their pains and hopes, and speaking and acting when we have to, is the example of Jesus for all


Cardinal Felipe Arizmendi, bishop emeritus of San Cristóbal de Las Casas and responsible for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Conference of the Mexican Episcopate (CEM), offers Exaudi readers his weekly article entitled “Bishops before the National Reality.”



During this week, 125 Mexican bishops are gathered in our ordinary Easter time assembly, together with priests, nuns, and lay people who accompany us in our pastoral work. The general objective of this triennium, among other things, is to “promote a more synodal and missionary disciple Church… accompanying our people in their pains and hopes, in fraternity, communion.” The particular objective of this week is “to encourage the Church in Mexico to trace with hope the path of peace in the face of the growing violence in our country, and to spread, with a deep synodal spirit, the principles of the Gospel to justice and social fraternity in the electoral context, and let us walk together towards the Universal Jubilee of 2025.”

We propose seven specific objectives; I share two: “Promote concrete actions in the dioceses in accordance with the National Peace Agenda, to promote the culture of dialogue, reconciliation and non-violence in the communities. Dialogue with the candidates for the Presidency of the Republic, so that they share their proposals for government and vision of the country. Likewise, that the bishops can exchange impressions on analyzes and proposals that have arisen in the participation spaces of the Episcopal Conference, confronting visions and seeking possibilities of understanding with a view to the future government that the people freely choose at the polls”.

There has been no shortage of voices from Jacobins of other times who affirm that, by addressing these issues, we violate the Secular State. They continue to understand secularism as the intention to abolish in social life everything that has a religious meaning of any belief. Let it be clear that we do not seek a confessional State, of any religion, but a State that respects the human right to religious freedom for all citizens, as enshrined in our Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We are part of a people, and they are going through very delicate situations, especially division and political confrontation, violence and insecurity, and we bishops cannot lock ourselves in the temples and in our pastoral spaces, but rather accompany the pain and suffering from our people, to offer them the light and strength of God in their lives. It is the path that Jesus has taught us: to be with the people, not to offer them electoral campaign promises, nor to manipulate them with social programs, but so that together we walk paths that lead us to peace and reconciliation.

The meeting we have with the three presidential candidates is not to debate, but to listen to each other respectfully. They present their national projects to us; For our part, we appoint a bishop who, on behalf of everyone, asks them some questions and presents our concerns and proposals. We do not fight between shouts and offenses, but as people who know how to respect everyone, even if we do not agree on several issues.


Pope Francis has just said this to a group of leaders: “As for respect for diversity, an essential element in democracy – which must be constantly promoted – the fact that the State is “secular” contributes a lot to creating harmony. We are obviously talking about a holy secularism, which does not mix religion and politics, but rather distinguishes them for the good of both, and which at the same time recognizes religions’ essential role in society, at the service of the common good. Furthermore, peace and social harmony are favored, according to its model, through fair and equitable treatment of the different ethnic components, including religious and cultural ones. And this concerns work, access to public office and participation in the political and social life of the country, so that no one feels discriminated against or favored because of their specific identity.

The promotion of peace. Today, many, too many – and many, too many voices – speak of war: bellicose rhetoric, unfortunately, has returned to fashion. This is bad. But while words of hate are spread, people die in the brutality of conflicts. Instead, we must talk about peace, dream about peace, give creativity and concreteness to the expectations of peace, which are the true expectations of the people and people. Let every possible effort be made in this regard, in dialogue with everyone. May their meeting in respect for diversity and with the intention of mutual enrichment be an example of not seeing the other as a threat, but as a gift and a valuable interlocutor for mutual growth” (4-4-2024).


Let us follow the path of Jesus, who for thirty years did not preach great sermons or perform miracles, but lived with his people, as one among many, sharing daily life, with its sorrows and joys, to later be able to speak and act with authority. Being close to our people, in their pains and hopes, and speaking and acting when we have to, is the example of Jesus for all.