The Last Cristero

Friday, February 26, AD 2016


The Virgin Mary is our protector and defender when there is to fear

She will vanquish all demons at the cry of “Long live Christ the King!”

Soldiers of Christ: Let’s follow the flag, for the cross points to the army of God!

Let’s follow the flag at the cry of “Long live Christ the King!”

English translation of the battle hymn of the Cristeros




The last member of that gallant band who took up arms to defend Catholics 90 years ago has passed away.  From the blog Call me Jorge:


Juan Daniel Macias Villegas died on 18 February 2016 at the age of 103 years in his native town of San Julián, Jalisco, Mexico.  He began fighting with the ‘Cristeros’ at the age of 13 years.  Don Macias was the last living soldier of the Cristero War. 

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.
And let the perpetual light shine upon him.
And may his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Go here to read the rest.

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9 Responses to The Last Cristero

  • May the spirit of Juan Daniel live in our hearts.
    A spirit of Viva Cristo Rey!

  • Juan Daniel is a saint and a faithful son of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
    I went to the theater three times to watch this movie and to financially
    support it. I also purchased a Blu-ray copy for my home theater.

  • A “lovely revolution” indeed. God, that we will have such courage and faith.
    THANK YOU for sharing this.

  • Perhaps we are under circumstances in our country, where we may have to defend our “Christ The King” and our right to believe soon now. As we saw in Mexico, Satan is relentless, and Politicians WILL take away our freedom.

  • Douglas A. Saballos.

    Not perhaps, rather we are in jeopardy of our Religious Freedoms. In 2012 the movie For The Greater Glory opened up in select theatres and it wasn’t by coincidence. The HHS mandate was the weapon wielded by Obama’s Administration to coerce all business owners into supplying insurance products that destroy human life at its earliest beginnings; abortifacients ie. Morning after pill, plan b, RU-486. Obama gave a very slim exclusion to exceptions, mainly Church employee status, however rulings in favor of Freedom of Conscience have come about; Hobby Lobby case for example, but it’s an uphill fight.

    To have the government defining our religion is one small step to having our religion gutted.
    For The Greater Glory was a timely reminder of what can transpire when good men remain silent or asleep as tyranny slithers in on its belly.

  • When I learned of the Cristeros and the oppression of Christians in Mexico by thuggish, anti-Catholic governments I was dismayed that I had never heard of it in all my years in Catholic school and CCD.

    This history should definitely be taught to US Catholic children. That it’s not another example of our bishops doing less than their full duty.

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  • I own the movie, “For Greater Glory” and believe that we are all being “readied” to defend our faith come what may. Our hope lies in Christ & He is our hope. Even if we lose our lives it does not matter because in essence we truly gain it. But for those who wish to persecute us it will not go well with them. The truth of God can never be “silenced” it lives on even after death. I share this movie & evangelize others to the love of Christ. Que Viva Christo Rey Para toda la vida! Amen.

  • Mrs. Edna Ruiz-Manrique.

    Agreed 100% to everything you said.

    When Hillary Clinton told a group of women that Religions “must” change their views on the abortion debate, one must take her seriously! If she gets in as President you can count on her working to achieve that goal by any means possible.

    God bless you and keep you.

Father Barron Reviews For Greater Glory

Monday, September 10, AD 2012

The Blu Ray and DVD releases of For Greater Glory are coming out on September 11, 2012For Greater Glory tells the story of the Cristeros who bravely fought for religious freedom and the Church in the 1920s in Mexico.  I heartily recommend this film.  The above video is Father Robert Barron’s insightful review of the film.   (I believe he is too sanguine as to the effectiveness of purely non-violent movements in the face of regimes who don’t care how many people they kill, but that is a debate for another day.)   The below video has additional remarks by Father Barron on the film.  Go here for my review of the film.

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12 Responses to Father Barron Reviews For Greater Glory

  • Thank you, Donald! I watched Fr. Barron’s first video above, but it’s now time to shower to go to “Neutrons ‘R Us” and be productive. But I just wanted to say that while I am among the first to advocate that our Second Amendment protests the First, maybe there is something to Jesus’ rebuke against the sons of thunder for wanting to call down an air strike against those unrepentant villages of yore. True – not the same situation as the Cristeros, but victory is through the Cross and always has been. I will still, however, keep my mini-14 in good working order lest, Heaven forbid, we ourselves in America face our own Plutarco Elias Calles. God bless!

  • Opps – protects, NOT protests! Darn fat fingers on iPad keyboard!

  • Christ was never interested in politics Paul, or any of the more mundane matters that must concern us. The truth is that Christianity has been effectively exterminated by force in many regions of the planet throughout history. The examples cited by Father Barron, Gandhi and King, would have been completely useless in the face of totalitarian regimes. One can imagine the short shrift that Gandhi would have received if the Nazis had ultimately conquered the British Empire for example. Traditionally the Church has understood both the need for priests and soldiers and I stand by that traditional wisdom.

    “And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,

    And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.”

  • “One can imagine the short shrift that Gandhi would have received if the Nazis had ultimately conquered the British Empire for example.”

    Sounds like you may have read Harry Turtledove’s “The Last Article.”

    One of the grimmer short stories from his oeuvre.

  • Thought so. 🙂

    Great, insightful alternate history that rings wholly true.

    Sure, the tyrant can repent in the face of non-violence, but he has to accept the legitimacy of that tactic in the first place. He has to have a conscience, and it has to be a lot like yours.

    Speaking of grim Turtledove ruminations, I just re-read “Ready for the Fatherland” last night–my wife found it in storage. A helpful reminder that one of the greatest assets to the Allied cause in wartime was Hitler’s armchair generalship.

  • Gandhi’s advice to the Jews in Germany prior to World War 2:

    “Can the Jews resist this organized and shameless persecution? Is there a way to preserve their self-respect, and not to feel helpless, neglected and forlorn? I submit there is. No person who has faith in a living God need feel helpless or forlorn. Jehovah of the Jews is a God more personal than the God of the Christians, the Musalmans or the Hindus, though, as a matter of fact in essence, He is common to all the one without a second and beyond description. But as the Jews attribute personality to God and believe that He rules every action of theirs, they ought not to feel helpless. If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest gentile German may, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment . And for doing this, I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance but would have confidence that in the end the rest are bound to follow my example. If one Jew or all the Jews were to accept the prescription here offered, he or they cannot be worse off than now. And suffering voluntarily undergone will bring them an inner strength and joy which no number of resolutions of sympathy passed in the world outside Germany can. Indeed, even if Britain, France and America were to declare hostilities against Germany, they can bring no inner joy, no inner strength. The calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities. But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant. For to the god fearing, death has no terror. It is a joyful sleep to be followed by a waking that would be all the more refreshing for the long sleep.”

    Gandhi’s belief in non-violence admitted no failure, even if all the people attempting it were massacred. I assume the Jews found this letter cold comfort indeed, as the more perceptive among them no doubt realized that a massacre on an unbelievable scale was where the Nazi anti-Semitic policies were heading.

  • Toleration, passive aggressive-resistance and non-violent resistance.

    Being sued and penalized for practicing my freedom of religion is not toleration. Government is the servant of the sovereign person. Toleration of freedom by the government is the enslavement of the sovereign person. Freedom comes from God, our “Creator”.

    Government is constituted by its constituents to celebrate the freedom of its constituents, to protect, to guard and to do combat for the freedom of its constituents. Toleration of the freedom of religion by the individuals who constitute government is totalitarianism. Non-violent resistance is labeled “passive aggressive resistance” by a government that is no longer government, but dictatorship. The dictatorship says: “I will let you…have some of your rational, immortal soul”. The dictatorship says: “You did not build that”.

    Government says: “God built that”.

    Paul W. Primavera: May your “fat fingers” continue to comment.

    Donald McClarey: “Traditionally the Church has understood both the need for priests and soldiers and I stand by that traditional wisdom.” “You shall not stand idly by while your neighbor’s life is in jeopardy.”

  • I think Fr. Barron’s priase of those who didn’t directluy participate in the fighting and writing off the combatants as merely “well intentioned” rather silly when you consider the fat that the young boy who has since been beatified was a comabatant and those who didn’t directly participate did what they did in support of the Crsteros combatants.

  • The Crusades were ordered by the reining Pope. The Crusades were not a non violent response to the Muslims. The Church gave the world the just war concept. So much for non violence.

  • In non-violence, the purpose of which is to instruct people with the reality of the human being’s immortal soul, Ghandi said: the scripture: “an eye for an eye”, will make the whole world blind. The law was written to save some of the eyes in the world. When Jesus told Peter to put down the sword, Peter was already an ordained priest, since the Last Supper, just as Father Barron is an ordained priest, who belongs to the church, first and to the people second. Lay people serve as armed forces and may, God forbid, die by the sword. Non-violence does not repudiate armed force. Armed force repudiates violence.

A Film For Our Time, and All Times

Sunday, June 3, AD 2012


No one, surely, Venerable Brothers, can hazard a prediction or foresee in imagination the hour when the good God will bring to an end such calamities. We do know this much: The day will come when the Church of Mexico will have respite from this veritable tempest of hatred, for the reason that, according to the words of God “there is no wisdom, there is no prudence, there is no counsel against the Lord” (Prov. xxi, 30) and “the gates of hell shall not prevail” (Matt. xvi, 18) against the Spotless Bride of Christ.



I knew that my viewing of For Greater Glory was going to be something special when two Dominican nuns, in habits,  came out of the showing before the one my family and I attended and one of them remarked to me that it was a very powerful film.  I replied that we were looking forward to seeing it.  Well, that wasn’t completely true.  My worldly, jaded 17 year old daughter would much have preferred to have been back home killing zombies online with her internet chums.  By the end of the film  she was weeping over the scene in which 14 year old Blessed  José Sánchez del Río, stunningly portrayed by Mauricio Kuri,  was martyred.  I did not blame her.  I have not been so deeply moved by a film since I saw The Passion of the Christ.

Before we go any farther, I should announce the obligatory spoiler alert.  I will be mentioning plot elements that people who have not seen the film might not wish to have revealed to them.  For those wishing to continue on, if you have not read my initial post here on the historical background of the Cristeros War, you might find it helpful to look at it before reading this review.

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25 Responses to A Film For Our Time, and All Times

  • I saw the film on Friday, opening day, and was very moved by it. I am a B16 kind of Catholic and find the LCWR and their supporters in a role of harrassment against those of us who accept the teaching magisterium of the Church and want to be faithful to its dogma and sacramental life. I wonder how the dear nuns would react to a film where courageous Mexicans were willing to give their very lives for God, where heaven cost them everything. I admire their deep faith and am grateful for their example. What are the LCWR nuns examples of? New Age faux theologies, feminism that supports abortion on demand, gay marriage. Who would die for those things?! They need to wake up. Go see the movie, sisters, and find out what the Church is really about. Certainly not your power struggle with the bishops. Viva Christo Rey!

  • I saw the film on Friday evening with some young men from the Church. The martyrdom of Blessed José Sánchez del Río reminded me of Revelation 6:9-11:

    9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

  • The Mexican Constitution to this day contains many anti-Catholic articles,
    forbidding the church to own property, interfering in Her administration,
    banning monasteries, limiting seats in seminaries, prohibiting Church schools,
    even prohibiting both processions and the wearing of clerical dress outside
    the walls of a church. Some of these laws are now ignored by the authorities,
    but they remain as a threat. For example, a few years back the Cardinal
    Archbishop of Mexico City made a public statement condemning government
    corruption and collusion with drug cartels. As I recall, the president of
    Mexico responded by pointing out that the provisions of the constitution
    remain in effect. The Church’s social services and schools are permitted to
    operate only on the sufferance of the government, and could be swept away
    should She make herself too troublesome.

    I’d imagine our president rather envies Mexico for her modern, progressive

  • My wife and I saw this movie last night. I noted one of the liberties that the film too, namely the burning of the train by Vega. I also noted in retrospect that they made it a point of showing him with several women smuggling ammunition when he meets General Ramirez, who seems to raise an eyebrow about the circumstances. In wanting to be charitable to the filmmaker, I wonder if it’s possible that perhaps other sources picked up Mexican government propaganda and used that as a source on Fr. Vega. I’m sure you’re right about the character of Fr. Vega, but I’m not a historian, so I have no idea what kind of evidence was used in the sources which present Fr. Vega in a rather negative light. Perhaps you can give us more information?

  • I’d like to think this movie may be a lesson for Obama and the secularist. Is there a point beyond which we will resist?

  • “I’d imagine our president rather envies Mexico for her modern, progressive

    Not just Obama:

  • Just saw the movie and certainly can’t add to what you’ve said. All I can say I hope my faith is never put to the test.
    Can you suggest any books on the Cristero war or the period generally? My knowledge of Mexican hiistory is spotty at best.

  • The literature on the Cristero War in English is fairly sparse. The best book is probably Jean Meyer’s The Cristero Rebellion

    A good short history is in Latin American Wars, volume II

  • Wikipedia has what I would consider to be a reasonable section on the Cristero War, but I am hardly one to speak authoritatively. It “seems” accurate, to me.

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy:) Don tells me the Wikipedia article on the Cristero War is accurate, Don the Kiwi. (Although I’m the one with the university degree in Spanish, Don’s read more Latin American history than I have. At least I can translate the Spanish-language resources for him!)

  • What is the story behind José Victoriano Huerta Márquez, 35th President of Mexico, whose dictatorship the Church allegedly supported, because of which support the anti-clerical laws in the Mexican Constitution were established? Did the Church shoot itself in the foot? I also read that at first the US supported Victoriano Huerta, and then Woodrow Wilson admonished him to restore / institute democratic reforms. Is this liberal progressive revisionist history, or is there some truth to all of this?

  • Few events in history are more convuluted and confusing then the Mexican Revolution that started in 1910. Madero toppled Diaz. He was overthrown by Huerta in 1913 after Madero proved unable to cope with the revolts that he faced. Huerta had initial US backing, but the incoming Wilson administration opposed him and backed Carranza who toppled Huerta in 1914. The Church in the chaos of the Mexican Revolution simply attempted to survive. Mexico has a long tradition of anti-clericalism dating back the first half of the nineteenth century. Anti-clericalists were at the helm when the 1917 Constitution was written. The Church was attacked at the time as supporting conservative forces in the Mexican Revolution, notably Huerta, but that was a false allegation:

  • Thanks for the clarification, Donald. It’s always best to be properly informed.

  • From Fr Seraphim Beshoner’s podcast “Catholic under the Hood” (Franciscan humor there) an episode about the role of women in the revolt.

    Looking a the show notes he does give sources that interesting.

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  • Wow, it’s like we watched two different movies. As important as this story is and as much as I wanted to like this movie as a practicing Catholic, a combination of poor directing, an overblown and hammy score and average to sometimes cringeworthy acting (with a few exceptions – Blades and Greenwood) just ruined it for me. Despite their obvious anti-Catholic bias, I have to admit the secular critics were right in panning this seriously flawed movie. It seems that Catholics are so
    hungry for any movie that treats the faith favorably these days, some are willing to overlook the fact that a movie is just not that good (There Be Dragons is another recent example). We should expect better than this.

  • “It seems that Catholics are so hungry for any movie that treats the faith favorably these days, some are willing to overlook the fact that a movie is just not that good ”

    Or simply have a completely different opinion from yours as to the film. Everyone should go see it and make up their own minds as to the merit of the movie.

  • The movie was GREAT! Absolutely awesome. And head and shoulders above any of the recent releases (e.g., Battleship, Avengers, etc.).

  • I can’t get the scene of the martyrdom of Jose out of my head. The kid was fantastic throughout the entire movie.

  • Dear Donald,
    I was pleasantly surprised to see a link to my paper. Thanks very much!

    I would be happy to hear comments about it and to answer questions anyone may have about the Cristero Rebellion, or about the Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary (anti)religious policies.

  • Thank you Reynaldo for writing an epic paper that clarifies a topic I have always found somewhat confusing.

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  • My sole complaint about the movie comes at the very end. In order to give the pretense of a happy ending all that’s mentioned is that the church bells rang again. There was no mention of the 6,000+ Cristeros that Calles executed once they laid down their arms. Guess that was his idea of “amnesty.”

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Roger Ebert Pans For Greater Glory For Being Too Catholic

Friday, June 1, AD 2012



Roger Ebert is one of the more celebrated movie critics in the country.  He is also a secular liberal of a fairly exteme variety.  This was on display in his review of For Greater Glory.  Go here to read the review.

Ebert confesses that he had never heard of the Cristeros war:

This war has all the elements to make it well-known, but I confess I’d never heard of it. A close Mexican-American friend, well-informed in Mexican history, told me she never has, either. Is it in the usual history books? You’ll learn a lot about it in “For Greater Glory,” the most expensive film ever made in Mexico, an ambitious production with a cast filled with stars.

Judging from the rest of the review, this confession of ignorance was superfluous.

Ebert seems to lack any concept of the Catholic beliefs regarding martyrdom:

It is well-made, yes, but has such pro-Catholic tunnel vision I began to question its view of events. One important subplot involves a 12-year-old boy choosing to die for his faith. Of course the federal troops who shot him were monsters, but the film seems to approve of his decision and includes him approvingly in a long list of Cristeros who have achieved sainthood or beatification after their deaths in the war.

Yes Mr. Ebert, we Catholics do believe it is better to die than to deny Christ.  We have it from the mouth of Christ that this is what we should do.  If you have problems with this, take it up with Him.

Ebert seems to believe that it is OK to persecute the Church a little, but Mexican President Calles took things a wee bit too far:

President Calles (Ruben Blades), who can’t believe the Cristeros can possibly be successful, pursues the war beyond what seems to be all common sense. It’s one thing to enforce legal restraints on the Catholic Church and another — a riskier one — to order such extremes as sending all the bishops and foreign-born clergy out of the country and authorizing the murder of priests in their own churches.

Overall Ebert thinks that For Greater Glory is a good film, but all this Catholic business ruins it:

For Greater Glory” is the kind of long, expensive epic not much made any more. It bears the hallmarks of being a labor of love. I suspect it’s too long for some audiences. It is also very heavy on battle scenes, in which the Cristeros seem to have uncannily good aim. But in its use of locations and sets, it’s an impressive achievement by director Dean Wright, whose credits include some of the effects on the “Lord of the Rings” films. If it had not hewed so singlemindedly to the Catholic view and included all religions under the banner of religious liberty, I believe it would have been more effective. If your religion doesn’t respect the rights of other religions, it is lacking something

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35 Responses to Roger Ebert Pans For Greater Glory For Being Too Catholic

  • If Mr Ebert were a true intellectual he would to the research and see that President Calles actually built Protestant schools while commandeering Catholic institutions. He was a Mason who was viciously anti-Catholic. It was an agenda driven vendetta against the Church which, as Mr Ebert rightly indicates, surpassed reason. The disgraced American Ambassador in the film, said, “the more Catholic priests and whores they kill in Mexico, the better.” No wonder he was replaced by President Coolidge!
    I recommend Patrick Madrid’s CD from Lighthouse Media on the Cristero War for a quick, reliable overview of historical background and the filmmakers are coming out with a study guide to accompany the film, with the help of the US bishops.
    Learn from the suppression of our Faith in Mexico how to stop the Obama Administration in its tracks as he attempts to begin the same process of alienation and suppression in the USA. It is nothing short of providential that this film comes out the same month as the USCCB’s “Fortnight for Freedom”.

  • Lacking something?

    What would that be, exactly, according to Ebert? Obviously there’s some higher, universal secular religion that he adheres to that all other religions must be compared to in order to pass muster.

    I will say, however, that one of the problems with Vatican II’s statements on religious liberty, from whence those Catechism statements are derived, is that the Church actually did insist that Catholic states prohibit the free exercise of religion, i.e. violated the alleged “human rights” of Saracens and others throughout the Middle Ages. The public profession of Islam was to be banned solely because it offended God.

    I see no need, unlike a lot of modern Catholics, to apologize for this. Who decided that the modernist, Masonic standards of people like Roger Ebert are those to which we must scramble to conform? That transgressions against them must be eternally apologized for and any hint of a policy that might transgress against them again scrubbed vigorously away?

    Pope Leo XIII’s position was perfectly adequate for me. It does not declare religious liberty to be some sort of “human right”; it rather views it as a prudent policy given the times in which we live. Vatican II and the moderns go a step further by making what was arguably a necessity into a virtue. I can’t do that, because to do so would be to logically condemn Christendom and its policies, and I will never do that.

  • I have to add that the view that insists, as a fundamental principle, that all people are entitled to religious liberty is almost always found with the view that all religions are more or less the same. It’s the business of the state that is of the highest concern, and the business of science to tell us the “real” truth about the universe. Religion is a subjective thing that might make some people and communities happier but will also distract from this “real” business if taken too seriously.

  • I just saw the film, and my feeling was very different from Mr. Eberts. I didn’t think the film was as well crafted as it could have been, and what seemed missing the most was actually perceiving a faith motivating the characters. They said “Viva Christo Rey” but I wanted to see them live it, to mean it. That never quite came through (at least to me- I might view it again and see if I feel differently).

    The thing is, Mexico DID persecute Catholics and kill them- so I’d not call it Catholic tunnel vision. It had less of that than some movies of the past.

    I do think the film suffered from not being sure if it was about freedom in general, religious freedom, or defending the faith. It was all over the place as far as that– very out of focus.

  • In regard to religious freedom and the Church, we have to keep in mind that what we understand as religious freedom is a modern creation ushered in largely by the Founding Fathers. Prior to that time the Church was usually suppressed or placed under severe disabilities wherever non-Catholic religions gained the upper hand. Ireland was a typical example. The idea of a truly neutral state on matters of religion was something not considered as possible until the United States demonstrated that it was possible. The popes were somewhat sceptical initially, but gradually understood how religious freedom as practiced in the United States, where the Church was almost totally left alone, was of value to the Church. I think it was Gregory XVI, no fan of new-fangled Republics, who stated that in no country was he more Pope than in the United States. The example of the United States helped convince the popes that religious freedom, in a governmental arrangement where the Church was free to conduct her mission, was something to be supported. Catholic confessional states often constantly interferred with the Church, including having a voice in the choosing of bishops, and even intervening in Papal elections. A state which left the Church alone definitely had its advantages for Catholics, and to preserve that dispensation is precisely what the current fight for religious liberty is all about in the US.

  • That Calles could torture and execute a twelve year old boy does not need a movie around it. That Ebert thinks that all religions are the same, Catholicism, atheism (a belief in no God) is why the Person of God has been exiled from the midst of the state along with the Commandments and civilization. Now, America after aborting our constitutional posterity can torture and kill twelve year old boys too, equality and RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.

  • “I have to add that the view that insists, as a fundamental principle, that all people are entitled to religious liberty is almost always found with the view that all religions are more or less the same. It’s the business of the state that is of the highest concern, and the business of science to tell us the “real” truth about the universe. Religion is a subjective thing that might make some people and communities happier but will also distract from this “real” business if taken too seriously.”
    God’s gifts to man are Faith, first and foremost, the universe and the scientific method for discerning the “real” truth about the universe. Religion is man’s response to the gift of Faith from God through which man discovers the science of man. Human existence is the criterion for the objective ordering of human rights. Subjective ordering of human rights is what got us into where twelve year old boys are tortured and executed and another man’s response to the gift of Faith from God can be criminalized. Which is where we are now, in America, TRUTH has been ostracized and criminalized and we are about to have the practice of medicine criminalized through Obamacare. There is only one Supreme Sovereign Being and love for God is called Catholicism. His people are called Americans.

  • This movie got a meager 19% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes from the critics, but 72% of audiences liked it. Quite a disparity.

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  • Finally saw a commercial for this.

    I think about a half-dozen people from our group alone are going to go see it in theater because of that– outstanding video clips. (I won’t, but that’s because I never do. ^.^)

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  • Another reason why no one should ever give a damn about what a film critic says.

  • It’s one thing to enforce legal restraints on the Catholic Church

    I wonder what “legal restraints” he thinks are appropriate?

  • Rush Limbaugh was praising it on his show. My mother called me up and wanted to know more, because she’d never heard about it. Cracked me up, because I’d just been talking about it the previous weekend, and my mom had totally tuned me out!

    I’ve seen a lot of commercials for it, in some unexpected places. I think it would appeal to anyone, of almost any background or political stripe. I mean to go see it soon.

    Ebert is one of those ex-Catholics who really feels guilty about leaving the faith, and thus can’t admit that he feels guilty. His autobio said he used to be fervent before he did stupid stuff in the Sixties, so of course the little kid martyr makes him feel uncomfortable. I hope it does him good over the long haul, and I’m sure he has the martyrs’ prayers.

  • Re: the Cristeros, now that I think about it, Ebert must have heard about them. The Power and the Glory, and that other John Ford movie about it — they are famous, as was mentioned over on Greydanus’ column. Did Ebert think all that stuff was made up?

  • I haven’t seen the movie yet. I do agree that internal biases may be at work with regard to reviews by professional film critics who don’t like the fact that the movie has an unabashedly “Church good, government bad” point of view.

    That said, there is a difference between the quality of a film’s subject matter and the quality of the acting, directing, cinematography, scripting, etc. that went into it. A movie with wonderful and inspiring subject matter may be spoiled by poor acting, a cliched script, clumsy editing, or any number of elements that a film critic would notice. Likewise, a morally offensive movie may have a great script, brilliant acting, etc.

  • All I have to say is… everybody in the theater applauded when this movie was over. It’s not too often you get that. They certainly didn’t think it was “too Catholic.”

  • Catholic means universal, and by definition there is no tunnel vision in Catholicism.

  • I think that the reason for religious freedom is that you cannot be Catholic unless you do it out of free will and hold the faith to heart and if other people make someone act catholic than they are not actually being Catholic.

  • I don’t think any actual Muslim can be a good leader simply because their faith says “be Muslim or we kill you.”.

  • “If your religion doesn’t respect the rights of other religions, it is lacking something.”

    Unless the Catholics in the movie actually did this, what was the point of this comment? Is Schindler’s List anti-Gentile because it focuses on how the Nazis primarily targeted Jews instead of encompassing the persecution of Roma, homosexuals, and people with disabilities as well?

  • The problem with atheists, humanists, and secularists is that they do not have a solid foundation for what they call ethics.

  • Roger Ebert is a dolt. I am being kind in calling him a dolt as far more coarse words also fit Ebert. However, these words will cause me to go to Confession, which is where I likely need to go anyway.

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  • This is the problem when a Secular Atheist tries to understand religion. It shows Ebert to be woefully ignorant of matters of faith.

  • “Too catholic”? Really!? Umm..Ebert…it would be kinda hard not to make it Catholic since it was about the persecution of Catholics! That’s like saying America is too American! I guess it goes to show what liberals and druggies have in common-the more into it they get, the more brain cells they lose.

  • He’s sorta being an idiot, since there were basically no other religions in Mexico…fighting for religious liberty meant fighting for the Church.

  • Credit should be given where credit is due: although Ebert is off-base here, and is indeed a secular liberal, he has a history of panning films that are mendacious, ignorant, or otherwise demeaning toward the Church, probably as a result of his own Catholic upbringing.

  • That some one as presumably educated as Roger Ebert had never heard of the Cristiados, or knew of the history of Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s, is a clear indication of the sad state of education in the U.S. But Ebert surely might have been expected to know Grahame Greene’s THE POWER AND THE GLORY and the various films and television shows made from it.
    I doubt he is a dolt; he seems simply ignorant; and proud of his ignorance.

  • Most critics don’t appreciate “The Faith” displayed in ANY movie, unless it is clearly & overtly disparaged. Americans should learn from this movie how “religious freedom” can be legislated away by corrupt leadership. The moves of our current leadership to control religious freedom should be acknowledged by ALL FAITHS, and especially the CHRISTIAN FAITH, as it seems to be in the crosshairs. The movie was well-done with superior acting. Sad, but then real life can be, and God forbid, government control of our lives will be something we ALL will regret.

  • First of all, Mr. Ebert’s review was not even remotely a pan. It had some criticisms, but also a lot of favorable things to say. “Pan” does not mean “didn’t give extravagant, unqualified praise to a movie that I liked.”

    I am not religious, certainly not Catholic, but I lived in Mexico for several years, am fluent and literate in Spanish, and return to Mexico frequently. While absolutely not an expert on Mexican history, I am much more conversant with the subject than most gringos.

    While the anti-clerical laws in Mexico went WAY too far, the underlying principle of separation of church and state is indispensable to the functioning of a secular democracy. And it is important to remember that these laws did not happen in a vacuum. The history of the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico must be taken into account to give some contest. With rare exceptions the RCC in Mexico has always supported the landed aristocracy, the economic elites, and the politically powerful. It supported the physical and cultural conquest of indigenous peoples; with every troop of conquistadores came a priest to encourage them and provide moral justification for their actions. The Church brought the Inquisition to the New World. It opposed the movement for independence (Padre Hidalgo, one of the leaders of the 1810 revolution, who gave the famous “grito de la independencia” was defrocked and excommunicated before his execution), opposed the 1910 revolution as well as any and all efforts at democratization or land reform (quite possibly because the Church owned a huge amount of the best land in Mexico until after the 1910 revolution). While the Church has also sponsored charitable enterprises, schools and such, it’s hard to argue that, on the whole, the RCC has been a force for good in Mexico. At best its legacy is extremely mixed.

    While the Cristero rebellion was certainly in part a legitimate reaction to religious oppression, it was also in large part an effort by the landed elites to reclaim their privileges. Without excusing government atrocities, it is important to remember that the Cristeros committed their own, including the torture and execution of rural school teachers.

    I know a movie, even a long one, can’t portray every possible historical nuance, but the story of the Cristero revolution is much more complicated than this movie suggests, and it’s not always so easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys. At least a little of those nuances and ambiguity would be nice.

  • ““Pan” does not mean “didn’t give extravagant, unqualified praise to a movie that I liked.””

    No, Ebert panned the movie for being too Catholic, precisely as I stated.

    “I am not religious, certainly not Catholic,”
    Do tell!

    “While the anti-clerical laws in Mexico went WAY too far, the underlying principle of separation of church and state is indispensable to the functioning of a secular democracy”

    The anti-clerical laws had nothing to do with Church state separation and everything to do with seeking to eradicate the Catholic Church and infringing on the religious liberty of the Mexican people.

    “RCC in Mexico has always supported the landed aristocracy, the economic elites, and the politically powerful.”

    Rubbish. The Church has opposed political forces that have sought to plunder her and impose restrictions on the religious liberty of the Church.

    “It supported the physical and cultural conquest of indigenous peoples; with every troop of conquistadores came a priest to encourage them and provide moral justification for their actions.”

    More rubbish. The Church actually extended every effort to protect the native peoples and was unceasingly critical of the depredations of the Spanish upon them, beginning with the priests who accompanied the conquistadores.

    “The Church brought the Inquisition to the New World.”

    It would be more precise to say that the Spanish brought the inquistion to the New World, since the inquisition in Spain and its dependencies functioned largely as an arm of the Spanish government. Compared to the usual treatment of the liberties of the Mexican people by most of the secular governments of the 19th and 20th centuries, the inquisition in Mexico at its worst was mild by comparison.

    “It opposed the movement for independence (Padre Hidalgo, one of the leaders of the 1810 revolution, who gave the famous “grito de la independencia” was defrocked and excommunicated before his execution), opposed the 1910 revolution as well as any and all efforts at democratization or land reform (quite possibly because the Church owned a huge amount of the best land in Mexico until after the 1910 revolution).”

    Padre Hidalgo was a better revolutionary than a priest and I would think that a Church State separation champion such as yourself would frown upon a cleric leading an armed revolt. In regard to the Church lands, most of those were stolen by Liberal governments in the Nineteenth Century. The Church attempted to survive in the chaotic Mexican Revolution and only opposed those forces that sought to destroy her.

    “While the Cristero rebellion was certainly in part a legitimate reaction to religious oppression, it was also in large part an effort by the landed elites to reclaim their privileges. Without excusing government atrocities, it is important to remember that the Cristeros committed their own, including the torture and execution of rural school teachers.”

    The Cristero rebellion was almost entirely an attempt of Catholics to preserve their religious freedom. Public schoolteachers in the thirties were attacked in cristero regions because they were imposing a socialist education, as the government called it, and one of the prime elements of that education was that God did not exist. This was at a time when the Church was suffering a pitiless persecution throughout Mexico and in some provinces, Tabasco comes to mind, priests were banned, churches burned, and priests and layman executed if they defied the persecutors.

  • I still say there is too much positive in his review to call it a “pan.”

    I think we shall just have to agree to disagree about the history of the RCC in Latin America. While certainly individual priests and other religious have done wonderful things (the late Archbishop Romero of El Salvador is a great hero of mine) the larger institution has generally not been on the side of the angels, so to speak.

    I do appreciate your printing opposing viewpoints, though, and taking the time to reply.

    I would like to clear up one thing. As an advocate of the separation of church and state, I believe that religious people, including priests or other clergy, have every right to participate in the political process, just like any other citizen, so no, I have no problem at all with Padre Hidalgo being one of instigators of the Mexican war for independence. One of the many ways the Mexican laws went overboard was to strip priests of voting rights. This was wrong, period.

    What I do object to is the RCC, or any church, acting as a government partner and imposing its religious dogma on everyone, whether they share that church’s religious beliefs or not. So it was not wrong for the Mexican government to end the Church’s participation in public schools. And while I agree with you that the schools should have not have been actively teaching against religion instead of maintaing neutrality, I don’t really think that that justifies the murder of schoolteachers.

  • Not sure what I did wrong with the italics, but only the phrase “just like any other citizen” should be italicized.

Review of For Greater Glory

Thursday, May 31, AD 2012

There is well known to Us, Venerable Brethren – and it is a great cause of consolation for Our paternal heart – your constancy, that of your priests and of the great part of the Mexican faithful, in ardently professing the Catholic Faith and in opposing the impositions of those who, ignoring the divine excellence of the religion of Jesus Christ and knowing it only through the calumnies of its enemies, delude themselves that they are not able to accomplish reforms for the good of the people except by combating the religion of the great majority.


The film, For Greater Glory, the heroic story of the Cristeros who fought for the Church and religious liberty in the twenties of the last century in Mexico, is opening on June 1.  Go here  to read my first post on the film and the historical background of the Cristeros War.   I will be seeing the movie with my family on Saturday, and I will have a full review of the film on Sunday or Monday.  In the meantime, reviews are beginning to come in.  I enjoyed this one by Dustin Siggins at Hot Air:

Over the last several years Catholics in America and Europe have experienced what they believe are the stripping of religious rights, and many are concerned the situation could easily turn into a public confrontation with various governments. One example of this is in England, where just this week the federal government has moved to declare wearing crosses in public is not a right. On this side of the water, my church’s parochial vicar Father Robert Lange often quotes His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, who in 2010 said the following: “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”

Such things were on my mind as I watched “For Greater Glory,” a movie about the Cristeros, or “soldiers for Christ,” who fought against religious persecution by the Mexican government from 1926 to 1929. The movie starts with laws which encroach upon religious freedom relatively benignly, such as not allowing the public wear of religious symbols. The Mexican government then moves to decry foreigners who allegedly control the nation’s citizens, particularly the Vatican, and rounds up all foreign-born bishops and priests to force them to leave the country. Peaceful rallies and protests are responded to with military force, which leads to an economic boycott.

The boycott is the last straw for Mexican President Plutarco Elías Calles. Ignoring the counsel of his advisers, he begins invading churches and killing Catholic priests and parishioners. This leads to protests of various forms, from peacefully marching in the streets to violent rebellion. At the heart of the entire movie are a teenage boy who sees his mentor shot before his eyes, an atheist whose wife’s Catholic faith and his own belief in religious freedom cause him to lead the rebellion, a woman whose network of faithful Catholic women is critical to the rebellion’s early formation, a rebel whose legendary fighting skills are matched by his disdain for authority, and a priest whose violent leadership in the rebellion causes a great deal of spiritual uncertainty.

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9 Responses to Review of For Greater Glory

  • Steve doesn’t give it a rating, but my guess is he would give it a B+ or A- on his Decent Films scale.

  • A fourteen year old boy is executed after torture for loving Jesus. Calles is a Mexican Hitler. St. Agnes was only twelve years old when she was butchered. Fourteen year old children are not even executed for capital one murder and Calles was butchering children for loving Jesus. Calles is a Mexican Herod.

  • Why do they (Obama and the Dem party) hate us?

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  • Don: I posted this over on your other blog entry, “They will shoot me on Tuesday” before I saw this area. With your permission, I’ll repost my question here:
    What is known regarding how the Cristero’s ended up? I read in a blog yesterday by Steven Greydanus, the movie critic at the National Catholic Register (the good NCR) [and lauded by you here earlier], that the Mexican government and the Catholic Church eventually came to an agreement whereby the Church stopped fighting the federal forces. As a result, the Cristeros became isolated and cut off from support and more were killed after the agreement than before. I realize the events in Mexico almost a hundred years ago are not the same as the attacks on religious liberty here in the US in 2012 but the ending in Mexico, if correct (and here I rely on you and your readers for help), sounds ominous with the Church leaders cutting a deal and leaving the people to fend for themselves against the State. It just makes me wonder about how current events will unfold…

    God bless you – thanks for this blog!

  • Some of the Cristeros were reluctant to accept the agreement, although most did. Most Cristeros expected that the Mexican government negotiated in bad faith and they were correct. Cristeros were persecuted and their leaders massacred. Many Cristeros fled to the United States where they usually received a warm welcome from Catholics here. The situation became intolerable in Mexico in the thirties and led to a second Cristeros revolt in the mid to late thirties. It should be noted that Pius XI bitterly denounced the Mexican government for reneging on the terms of the agreement With the election of Manuel Ávila Camacho, a believing Catholic, as President of Mexico in 1940, the situation dramatically improved, with the worst attacks on Catholics ended.

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New Video Clips From For Greater Glory

Tuesday, May 29, AD 2012

 We wish to pay a special tribute of praise to those members of the clergy, secular and regular, and of the Catholic laity, who, moved by burning zeal for religion and maintaining themselves in close obedience to this Apostolic See, have written glorious pages in the recent history of the Church in Mexico.

Pius XI, Acerba animi


The film, For Greater Glory, the heroic story of the Cristeros who fought for the Church and religious liberty in the twenties of the last century in Mexico, is opening on June 1.  Go here  to read my first post on the film and the historical background of the Cristeros War.  I have found some new video clips online from the film.  The video at the beginning of the post shows Enrique Gorostieta Velarde, portrayed by Andy Garcia, and his family being turned away from a Church closed by the Mexican government.    Enrique Gorostieta Velarde, not a believing Catholic at the start of the struggle, would eventually become the leader of the Cristeros.

In the above clip Father Christopher, portrayed by Peter O’Toole, rejects the counsel to flee from government troops by Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio, portrayed by Mauricio Kuri.  Captured by government soldiers during the Cristeros War,  Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio refused a command to renounce his Catholic faith by shouting out “Death to Christ the King” and was murdered by his captors.  He shouted Viva Cristo Rey before he died and, according to an eyewitness, drew a cross on the ground with his blood and kissed it before he died.  He was 14 years old.  He was beatified by Pope Benedict on November 20, 2005.

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4 Responses to New Video Clips From For Greater Glory

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  • I hope this will give American Catholics the courage to stand up for their faith, to practice with fervor, to cease fomenting internal dissent over small matters in order to stand united against the bigger threat of a total secularization, led by the Obama administration, that would entirely privatize religion and keep it from influencing the moral tenor of the public square. The new dogma that there is no dogma is making a terrible mess of American society, infusing it with lewd behavior, rage, lawlessness, violence. For sure, the Church is made up of people and people all bear the burden of original sine and are capable of bad, even disgusting, behavior. But the temptation to leave the Church in disgust is the work of the Devil. The Church was founded by Christ and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. A bumper sticker reads: “The game is fixed. The Lamb will win. Be there.” Be faithful, be true, be there.

  • I like Susan’s quote, “The game is fixed. The Lamb will win. Be there.”

  • “Who are you if you don’t stand up for what you believe?”