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The Calles' Law, or Law for Reforming the Penal Code, was a reform of the penal code in Mexicomarker under the presidency of Plutarco Elias Calles. The code reinforced strong restrictions against clerics and the Catholic Church put forth under Article 130 of the Mexican Constitution of 1917. Article 130 declares that the church and state state are to remain separate. To that end, it requires all "churches and religious groupings" to register with the state and places restrictions on priests and ministers of all religions. Priests and ministers cannot hold public office, canvas on behalf of political parties or candidates, or inherit property from persons other than close blood relatives.

President Calles applied existing laws regarding the separation of church and state throughout Mexico and added his own legislation. In June 1926, he signed the "Law for Reforming the Penal Code," which became known unofficially as the "Calles Law." This law provided specific penalties for priests and individuals who violated Article 130 of the 1917 Constitution. For example, wearing clerical garb in public was punishable by a fine of 500 pesos (approximately 250 U.S. dollars at the time); a priest who criticized the government could be imprisoned for five years. Some states enacted further measures in the name of church and state separation. Chihuahua, for example, enacted a law permitting only a single priest to serve the entire Catholic congregation of the state. Calles appropriated church property, expelled all foreign priests, and closed monasteries, convents, and religious schools.

One result of Calles Law was the Cristero War, an uprising led by clerics against the Mexican government. Between 1926 and 1934, at least 40 priests were killed during the war. Whereas Mexico had some 4,500 Catholic priests prior to the Cristero War, by 1934 only 334 Catholic priests were licensed by the government to serve Mexico's 15 million people. By 1935, 17 states were left with no priest at all.

References

  1. Tuck, Jim THE CRISTERO REBELLION - PART 1 Mexico Connect 1996
  2. Mexico, Religion U.S. Library of Congress
  3. Warnock, John W. The Other Mexico: The North American Triangle Completed p. 27 (1995 Black Rose Books Ltd) ISBN 1551640287
  4. Van Hove, Brian Blood-Drenched Altars Faith & Reason 1994
  5. Scheina, Robert L. Latin America's Wars: The Age of the Caudillo, 1791-1899 p. 33 (2003 Brassey's) ISBN 1574884522
  6. Ruiz, Ramón Eduardo Triumphs and Tragedy: A History of the Mexican People p.393 (1993 W. W. Norton & Company) ISBN 0393310663



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