Mora y del Rio, José
MORA Y DEL RIO, JOSÉ
Archbishop of Mexico during the beginning of the persecution; b. Pajacuarán, Michoacán, Feb. 24, 1854; d. San Antonio, Texas, April 22, 1928. After early education at a private school in Ixtlán de los Herbores, he entered the seminary of Zamora about 1868; in 1874 he was sent with other young seminarians to the Colegio de San Luis being established in Jacona. He completed his studies at the South American College in Rome, where he was ordained in 1879, and received a doctorate in Canon Law and in theology. In 1881 he returned to Mexico to become rector of the Colegio de San Luis. Bishop labastida y davalos, recognizing the young man's abilities, made him a professor at the seminary and gave him a post in the archiepiscopal secretariat. From then on he occupied many positions of confidence through which he became thoroughly acquainted with the operation of the Church and the political problems in Mexico. The succeeding bishop, Próspero María Alarcón, named Mora y del Rio first secretary of the archdiocese. Bishop Gillow of Oajaca recommended him for the Diocese of Tehuantepec, and he was appointed its first bishop on Jan. 19, 1893. That rude inhospitable area was transformed as much as possible by the bishop, who brought in religious orders to help in his social and apostolic work. On Sept. 12, 1901, he was transferred to the Diocese of Tulancingo. An advocate of Catholic Social Action, he organized there the influential "Semanas Agrícolas" for the working classes of the region. On Sept. 15, 1907, he was transferred to León and was there little more than a year when he was appointed archbishop of Mexico on Dec. 2, 1908. He took possession of the see on Feb. 11, 1909.
At the beginning of the political upheaval of 1911, the Catholics received the backing of the archbishop in founding a Catholic party, which supported the presidential aspirations of Francisco Madero. A coup d'état destroyed the weak, recently established democracy and General Victoriano Huerta assumed power. He was sympathetic to the Church, and his enemies were against it. But this was a momentary pause in the attack. In 1914 Archbishop Mora y del Rio went to Rome to report to the pope on the situation. He did not return to Mexico because of the religious complications building up to the Constitution of 1917, but spent some years in exile in San Antonio, Texas. As soon as circumstances permitted, he returned to his see and was back in Mexico by February of 1919. The law had put the Church in a precarious position, and the archbishop used whatever means he could to keep the Church organization functioning. The Eucharistic Congress he held in 1924 was so successful that it provoked governmental action against him and the other bishops who had participated. This was just the beginning of the persecution, which soon increased. To coordinate the activities of the bishops and the faithful, the apostolic delegate, Jorge Caruana, suggested an episcopal committee, which was formed with Mora y del Rio as chairman. This committee protested the antireligious laws and their enforcement, but President Calles was adamant. On Aug. 1, 1926, public worship was forbidden. Mora y del Rio had already refused to cooperate with the government in the establishment of a schismatic Mexican church; and so he, with other members of the hierarchy, was exiled to the United States, where he died.
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