Clerical Ideology in a Revolutionary Age: The Guadalajara Church and the Idea of the Mexican Nation (1788–1853)


426 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55238-038-1
DDC 322'.1'097235




Translated by Mark Alan Healey
Reviewed by John Walker

John Walker is a professor of Spanish studies at Queen’s University.


When the Mexican people first rebelled against their Spanish masters in
the opening of the 19th century, it is a significant fact that the
revolution of the Indians and the Mestizos was instigated and
orchestrated by two priests, Father Hidalgo and Father Morelos. Although
the initial revolt failed, the church and the clergy were to play a
major role in the development of the new nation throughout the 19th

If events in Europe and the United States were to prepare the way for a
liberalized, secularlized republic, and the separation of church and
state, individual priests in certain areas still had important roles to
play in the revolutionary and post-revolutionary age. With independence
in the 1820s and the growth of a free press and public debate, many of
the upper clergy felt that Mexico’s Christian values were under
attack. In this solid scholarly work, Connaughton focuses on the efforts
of the upper clergy in Guadalajara to speak out and write against the
rising tide of liberalism and the growing secularism of a country
steeped in Marianism (e.g., the Virgin of Guadalupe).

In nine chapters, based on archival research in Guadalajara, Jalisco,
Mexico City, and various U.S. centres, Connaughton analyses and quotes
from sermons, pamphlets, letters, newspapers, personal missives, and
other documents relating to the higher clergy of the Guadalajara church,
which appealed to the constitution and the law in order to underscore
the Catholic tradition and prevent the undermining of its values. These
clerical nationalists, some of whom attended the constitutional
congresses in Spain in the 1820s, stressed the notions of community,
nationalism, and citizenship, and saw no conflict between religious and
civic ideals. In fact, Catholic nationalism in Guadalajara was an
attempt to shore up the Mexican identity, as distinct from the
state—hence the importance of the subtitle.

Clerical Ideology in a Revolutionary Age is a wide and deep study of an
important topic (embracing Bourbon reforms, enlightenment, liberalism,
church, and state), enhanced by 60 pages of useful notes, a 30-page
bibliography, and a stimulating introduction and conclusion that raise
questions beyond the purely local and chronological topics presented
here, touching on nationhood and the national identity, developed later
by 20th-century thinkers like Vasconcelos, Reyes, Ramos, Octavio Paz,
and Carlos Fuentes.


Connaughton, Brian F., “Clerical Ideology in a Revolutionary Age: The Guadalajara Church and the Idea of the Mexican Nation (1788–1853),” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024,