The remarkable story of Cardinal Íñiguez is intertwined with the legacy of Cardinal Posadas Ocampo and the turbulent backdrop of Mexican society. Their journeys exemplify unwavering commitment to faith and justice, making them influential figures in the Catholic Church’s modern history.
Cardinal Posadas Ocampo’s ascent to the position of Cardinal, conferred by Pope Saint John Paul II, marked a significant moment in his ecclesiastical career. He was assigned to lead the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, a historical stronghold of traditional Catholicism and a vital epicenter of the Cristero movement. Guadalajara’s seminary, renowned for its contributions to the modern Church, owed part of its success to the dedicated efforts of Íñiguez.
Shortly after Cardinal Posadas Ocampo’s elevation to Cardinal, he made a crucial decision that would shape the course of Íñiguez’s life and ministry. Recognizing the need for strong leadership, Cardinal Posadas Ocampo appointed Íñiguez, who was then the Rector of the seminary, as the Bishop of Ciudad Juarez. However, before delving further into Íñiguez’s journey, it is essential to understand the broader context of Cardinal Posadas Ocampo’s role in Mexican society.
The early 1990s in Mexico were marked by turbulent transitions. In 1992, after decades of tension between the Mexican government and the Catholic Church, the Mexican constitution formally recognized the rights of the Catholic Church. This marked a significant shift, as prior to this recognition, the Church had faced severe restrictions since the 1860s, with the so-called “Laws of Reform” stripping it of legal representation and even denying priests the right to vote. Simultaneously, negotiations for NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, were underway, poised to open up Mexico’s economy to international markets. In the southern region of Chiapas, liberation theology was beginning to take root, reflecting the broader societal changes occurring in Mexico.
Cardinal Posadas Ocampo faced these tumultuous times head-on, advocating for the rights of the Church and denouncing corruption and injustices within the government. Tragically, his journey was cut short when he was murdered while en route to the Guadalajara airport. The official account claimed that he had become caught in a crossfire between the Tijuana Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel. However, the Church has consistently contested this official version, viewing the murder as a symbol of impunity in Mexico. When the vacancy left by Cardinal Posadas Ocampo had to be filled, Pope John Paul II turned to Íñiguez, recognizing not only his unwavering orthodoxy but also his reputation as one of the most vocal bishops in demanding justice from the government.
Cardinal Posadas Ocampo’s fearless denunciation of high-ranking government officials and Íñiguez’s subsequent continuation of this path by speaking out against injustices underscores their shared commitment to upholding the values of the Catholic Church. While Íñiguez is renowned for promoting the legacy of the Cristero martyrs, it is essential to acknowledge that this movement was technically initiated by Cardinal Posadas Ocampo.
Íñiguez’s own journey began in the town of Yahualica, Jalisco, on March 28, 1933. Yahualica was situated in the heart of the Highlands, the very epicenter of the Cristero War (1926-1929). This region was not only staunchly Catholic but also played a significant role in the armed resistance during the Cristero War. Íñiguez’s educational path took him through the minor and major seminary of Guadalajara, where he immersed himself in the study of theology and philosophy. His quest for knowledge eventually led him to Rome in 1952, where he enrolled at the prestigious Pontifical Gregorian University. In Rome, he diligently pursued his studies, ultimately earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a doctorate in theology.
On October 27, 1957, Íñiguez was ordained as a priest, marking the beginning of his lifelong dedication to the Church and its teachings. Subsequently, he returned to Guadalajara, where he embarked on a remarkable journey within the seminary. From 1961 to 1988, he served in various capacities, including as a professor, formator, spiritual director, prefect of discipline, prefect of the Faculty of Philosophy, vice-rector, and, finally, rector. His contributions and leadership were instrumental in the seminary’s success and prominence during this period.
However, Íñiguez’s journey took a momentous turn when he was appointed as the Coadjutor Bishop of Ciudad Juárez on March 3, 1988. His episcopal ordination took place on April 30 of the same year, with Monsignor Manuel Talamás Camandari presiding as the bishop of that diocese at the time.
The turning point in Íñiguez’s life and his rise to greater prominence occurred with the aforementioned tragic assassination of Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo on May 23, 1993. As I said following this shocking event, Pope John Paul II appointed Íñiguez as the new Archbishop of Guadalajara on April 21, 1994. This was a significant appointment, as Guadalajara was a cardinal see at the time, and it marked Íñiguez’s responsibility to lead a major archdiocese.
For the next seventeen years, Íñiguez served as the Archbishop of Guadalajara, leading the faithful and navigating the complex challenges facing the Church and society. His tenure coincided with a period of significant change and upheaval in Mexico, marked by political corruption, the rise of gender ideology, debates on abortion, and attacks on Christianity and the Church. Throughout these tumultuous times, Íñiguez emerged as a staunch defender of faith, tradition, and the teachings of the Church. His unwavering commitment to these principles made him a prominent figure in the defense of Catholic values.
Notably, Íñiguez also became known for his fierce opposition to Freemasonry, an organization he perceived as a threat to the Church and its teachings. His strong stance against Freemasonry led to multiple incidents in which he was poisoned, placing his life in grave danger. Despite these challenges and threats, Íñiguez persevered in his mission to defend the faith and the Church.
One of the lasting contributions of Íñiguez’s episcopate was his dedication to promoting the memory of the Cristero War and its martyrs. Thanks to his efforts, the Cristero War was brought out of oblivion and silence, and the martyrs and saints of the Cristero movement were beatified and canonized, allowing their stories to inspire future generations of Catholics.
Even at the age of 90, Íñiguez remains an active and influential figure in the Church, steadfastly defending the faith, the Church, and tradition. His commitment to providing shelter and protection to the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter in his Archdiocese in 2008 reflects his unwavering dedication to preserving the rich heritage of the Catholic Church.
However, Cardinal Íñiguez’s journey has not been without its share of controversies. He has fearlessly used his position to address pressing societal issues, including government lockdown measures. He has emphasized the importance of preserving individual liberties and the rights of the Church, regardless of any public health emergencies.
Furthermore, Cardinal Íñiguez has been a vocal critic of what could be called “pharmaceutical impositions.” He has expressed concerns about the influence of pharmaceutical companies and their impact on public health policies. His stance raises important questions about the intersection of corporate interests and public health, highlighting the need for transparency in decision-making processes.
In addition to these controversies, the Cardinal has faced accusations from the government of interfering in elections. His active promotion of pro-life candidates led to allegations of election interference, further underscoring his willingness to engage in the political arena to champion the Church’s stance on life issues.
These controversies serve as a testament to Cardinal Íñiguez’s unwavering commitment to his principles and his willingness to confront challenging issues head-on, even when it places him at odds with political authorities. Throughout his life and ministry, he has demonstrated a dedication to defending the values and teachings of the Catholic Church, regardless of the challenges and controversies that may arise. His willingness to speak out on these critical matters has further solidified his legacy as a fearless defender of faith and a prominent figure in the Church’s ongoing dialogue with society.
In conclusion, the story of Cardinal Íñiguez is a remarkable journey of faith, dedication, and unwavering commitment to the Catholic Church and its values. From his early years in the heartland of the Cristero War to his prominent role as Archbishop of Guadalajara, Íñiguez has left an indelible mark on the Mexican Church and society. His fearless defense of the faith, denunciation of injustice, and promotion of the Cristero martyrs’ legacy continue to inspire Catholics and stand as a testament to his enduring legacy. Cardinal Íñiguez’s willingness to confront controversies and advocate for justice further cements his place in the annals of Church history as a steadfast and unwavering defender of Catholicism.
Luis Media is a Bible teacher, public speaker, radio host and media consultant with over 15 years of experience. He has B.A. in Communication from the Metropolitan University of Monterrey in Mexico and a Masters in Theology from Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. Although he can cover a wide-array of topics, his expertise are focused in the arena of politics, social commentary and theology. During his spare time he enjoys reading, taking long walks, studying and teaching the Bible. You can find more about him on his YouTube Channel Reconquista Network or at his Twitter @Luisblogs.