After a number of Catholic Church leaders called on citizens to vote against the ruling Morena party at elections this Sunday, the federal government issued a statement calling on all religious figures to stay out of politics.
Several Catholic priests have published video messages urging people not to vote for the leftist party founded by President López Obrador.
Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, who last year accused the president of leading Mexico into communism, was one of them.
He exhorted citizens to vote against Morena because it is in the process of implementing a dictatorship and a “communist, socialist system that enslaves.”
The former archbishop of Guadalajara warned that if López Obrador obtains more power via the results of the elections, the people of Mexico will end up “very poor” like the citizens of Cuba and Venezuela.
Sandoval also said that national security and peace are at stake in the elections. “The [state and federal Morena] governments have allied themselves with criminals [and] cartels,” he claimed.
The federal Interior Ministry (Segob) responded to his and other priests’ advice to voters by issuing a statement on Thursday that effectively told church leaders to butt out.
To ensure that the June 6 elections are an “example of civility, responsibility and democracy,” the statement said, Segob called on leaders of churches and religious groups and associations to conduct themselves with strict adherence to the law and respect the veda electoral, a ban on political campaigning that applies to religious leaders as well as the president, among others, during the official campaign period.
The Interior Ministry also issued a statement in April reminding church leaders that the Mexican constitution and the Law of Religious Associations and Public Worship law prohibits them from intervening in the electoral process.
Among the punishments that can apply to those who violate the law are warnings, fines and the temporary or definitive closure of the place of worship from which the scofflaw proselytizes.
Segob, which is responsible for regulating church activities and overseeing compliance with public worship laws, said in its most recent statement that its main interest in calling for religious leaders to respect the veda electoral is to ensure that everyone – “within the framework of the principle of secularity that governs the Mexican state” – contributes to “the construction of a society that is fully democratic and respectful of constitutional precepts.”