Mexican Catholic women's activism, 1929-1940
This dissertation examines Catholic lay women's roles in the Church-State conflict in Mexico during the 1930s. After the Cristero Rebellion (1926-1929), clergy and laymen who publicly supported the Catholic Church were threatened with legal sanctions and government reprisal. Thus, Church leaders called upon Catholic women to assume public roles and to work creatively in defence of their faith, albeit following strictly delineated, gendered norms of behaviour. The Introduction discusses the lack of nuanced analysis of women's participation in the Catholic Church in Mexico. Chapter 1 traces the history of Catholic Social Action as envisioned in Europe and as adapted to Mexico from the end of the nineteenth century through the Cristero Rebellion, and includes a discussion of the roles envisaged for women in the Church hierarchy's strategy to concentrate and centralise lay people's efforts into the Acción Católica Mexicana (ACM). The first chapter also includes an overview of the Church-State conflict in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Mexico. Chapter 2 presents the reorganisation of various Catholic lay women's social and civic associations into the Union Femenina Católica Mexicana (UFCM). Chapters 3 and 4 form a case study of the UFCM in the Archdiocese of Guadalajara and the state of Jalisco. Chapter 3 concentrates on the Guadalajara Diocesan Chapter of the UFCM and on Catholic women's activism in the context of urban and regional issues. Chapter 4 compares the experiences of women in smaller towns and rural communities throughout the diocese and state, examining women's collective and independent responses to anticlerical legislation, the Mexican state's programs of socialist and sexual education and agrarian reform, the Church hierarchy's calls to action, and their own perceived need for religious and social organisation. The Conclusion evaluates Mexican Catholic women's responses to the social conflicts of the 1930s, their accomplishments, and the legacies of their mobilisation.