In December 1531, a 51-year-old convert to Christianity named Juan Diego reported that the Blessed Virgin appeared to him on a hillside near an Aztec shrine in central Mexico, near the village of Guadalupe, today a suburb of Mexico City. Juan recounted that she told him a number of things, including that she wanted a church built at that location.
The shrine church, later dedicated in 1709, now receives several million visitors per year and is regarded as one of the most sacred spots in the Western world. In 1910, St. Pius X declared Our Lady of Guadalupe the patroness of Latin America. Three decades later, in 1945, Pope Pius XII designated her patroness of all the Americas. Her feast day is Dec. 12, which is a holy day of obligation for Mexicans.
Tellingly, Our Lady of Guadalupe arrived at a time of widespread human sacrifice in Mexico. She is believed to have come to stop the killing, especially of children, of babies. To many Catholics, Our Lady of Guadalupe became an intercessor for the unborn.
This seems especially relevant in light of what recently happened in Mexico City, where “enlightened” lawmakers believe they have a greater grasp on humanity’s needs.
On April 24, legislators in Mexico City overwhelmingly approved a bill — the vote was 46-19, with one abstention — to legalize abortion under any circumstance during the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy. This is no minor measure, given that Mexico City is one of the world’s largest population centers. The bill will affect the more than 24 million inhabitants of the Federal District of Mexico City.
Where will the abortions take place? The new law will convert hospitals into killing fields, or at least as simultaneous abortion clinics, where doctors who swore a Hippocratic Oath to save life will toil aside another type of medical professionals specially trained in the careful art of exterminating life. The bill also provides means for the establishment of private abortion businesses.
Mexico’s pro-life community is sickened by this foot in the door, a likely move toward wider legalization of abortion into other parts of the country and, eventually, to the expansion of abortion rights into the second trimester and beyond.
Will Mexico follow the American model of runaway, out-of-control abortion liberalization? Or will it adopt Western Europe’s toxic brew of abortion, birth control, euthanasia and, overall, general population plunge?
Abortion-rights groups in America and around the world are thrilled with the Mexico City decision, at what they view as a tremendous achievement for women; they hope for a domino effect throughout Latin America, envisioning a day of added millions, if not tens of millions, of abortions provided annually up and down the Western Hemisphere, plus billions of new dollars in revenue for an exploding, thriving abortion industry.
As reported in these pages, Mexico’s abortion advocates received significant support from pro-abortion groups in the United States, especially the Center for Reproductive Rights, based in New York City. The Center hailed the “historic” bill in Mexico City, and it was far from alone in its jubilation.
Planned Parenthood also reportedly had its fingerprints at the scene. According to Human Life International, a pro-life group that lobbied against the Mexico legislation, Planned Parenthood’s affiliate MexFam received $3.4 million from 2002-2004 to push for this and similar legislation. “In other words,” Human Life International president, Father Thomas Euteneuer, told the Register, “American abortion dollars bought this decision of death.”
There did not seem to be a groundswell of support or demand for this action among the citizens of Mexico, who, according to polls, strongly oppose abortion. Being uniformly Catholic, they generally subscribe to their Church’s teaching that abortion is a “crime against human life,” “gravely contrary to the moral law” (Catechism, Nos. 2271-2272). Nonetheless, their public officials did what they did, somewhat akin to how a group of men on the U.S. Supreme Court in one stroke in 1973 made abortion the law of the land in America.
Where Mexico goes from here remains to be seen. The Mexican pro-life community is gearing up for a long battle, for the next legislative struggle to try to preserve some semblance of a culture that respects the sanctity and dignity of human life. They face a committed foe: practitioners of a culture of death working around the clock.
To persevere, Mexico’s pro-lifers will look ahead — and above. They will pray and will seek intercession, as have their American comrades for a generation.
Indeed, not long before he died, which was not long after Roe v. Wade, the Archbishop Fulton Sheen encouraged the spiritual adoption of an unborn child, a simple prayer to “spare the life” of an unborn, unknown baby in danger of being aborted.
To this day, innumerable prayer cards exist with Archbishop Sheen’s prayer on the back and the famous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the front, calling upon her intercession on behalf of the unborn. The archbishop’s purpose was to stop the abortion push in the United States. Now, it looks like Our Lady of Guadalupe is again needed — this time back in Guadalupe.
Paul Kengor is author of
The Crusader: Ronald Reagan
and the Fall of Communism