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Freedom of the Church Versus the Power of the State: The Patronage

El patronato analizado contra el patronato embrollado por los novadores, para sacar a la autoridad civil, due ñ a absoluta de lo espiritual . México: Impr. de Mariano Arevalo, 1833. (Pamphlet, 38 p., [2], 20cm x 14cm)

This anonymous pamphlet, probably written by a member of Mexico City’s upper clergy, responds to a pamphlet published by Dr. Gomez Huerta about the institution of the patronage, control of which was severely threatened at this time by civil government. It was written during the brief reign of radical liberal Valentín Gómez Farías, technically only vice president during Antonio López de Santa Anna’s first presidency, but who was allowed full powers of office while Santa Anna periodically ignored the demands of his post and returned to his estate in Veracruz. Once in power, the vice president lost no time in enacting liberal reforms to undermine the far-reaching powers of the two most influential institutions in the new Mexican nation: the military and the Church. By December 17, 1833, Gómez Farías had convinced Congress to pass legislation claiming the civil government's patronage of the Church, or the right to appoint clergy by providing their ecclesiastical benefices. As the author of this pamphlet indicates, Pope Julius II conferred universal patronage of the churches of New Spain upon the king of Spain, a power the Spanish monarchs had continued to hold until Mexico won its independence in 1821. The clergy, as demonstrated by this pamphlet, denied that the new civil government of Mexico held the right of patronage and strongly resented this blow to the freedom of the Church. This, along with several other liberal reforms of the Gómez Farías regime, caused public outrage and prompted Santa Anna to oust his own vice president from office and retake the reins. The unknown author presents a scathing criticism of the new patronage policy of the "novadores," the name given by conservatives to the progressive, liberal inheritors of the Spanish Enlightenment who dared to question centuries-old religious dogma.