Catholic priests were leading figures in the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence.

In 1810, Hidalgo gave the Grito de Dolores; in 1811, Morelos occupied Acapulco and Mercado took San Blas. All three were executed.

Later, professional soldiers took over the war effort and succeeded in achieving independence. Iturbide, the first individual ruler of independent Mexico, kept conservative clerics in his inner circle during his short rule. Religious doctrines can be deployed to support any kind of policies, but I'd expect collaboration like this from ranking members of a state church, more than violent uprisings.

Why were the churchmen so prominent in the independence struggle?

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    There is always the fact that churchmen would have had, in average, a way better education and more influence than the simple peasant. Then there is the fact that some of the above mentioned did know each other (at least Hidalgo and Morelos) and so they are not independent "events".
    – SJuan76
    May 10, 2018 at 23:21
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    And last but not least, churchmen intervention in military operations was far from a new thing. From the historical perspective we have examples like the military orders and Ignacio de Loyola, closer in time the Spanish church did take an active role against the French first and the Spanish liberals later. This article provides some details, although I do not know enough about the subject to endorse it: eial.tau.ac.il/index.php/eial/article/view/282 (HTH). It is noteworthy that it seems that Hidalgo claimed to be defending absolutism and the church to get his parishioners'support
    – SJuan76
    May 10, 2018 at 23:27
  • A marriage between church and political power in general has been going on since at least the time of Emperor Constantin. Noteworthy is for example that that politician was able to not just call all the bishops to the council in Nicaea but also presided over it, even though it supposedly was expected to decide over spiritual matters. Of course there was this underlying thought of unifying the church not just within itself but also with Roman paganism for political purposes.
    – user100487
    May 21, 2018 at 1:08
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    Mike Duncan covers this pretty well, I think, in his 9.02 podcast. If memory serves me well, Hidalgo was in charge of a church division that was supposed to enforce censorship, and thus was authorized to read seditious texts (which he loved to do, and indeed embraced). Morellos was one of his pupils. I don't recollect off the top of my head for Mercado. But the short answer is the clergy played a role in censorship, but in reading so much enlightenment writings those in charge of censoring it ended up embracing it. Aug 13, 2019 at 18:21

1 Answer 1


There were many things happening all at once when Mexico became independent.

The world saw a free America and the Old World saw the cost to Britain in it's attempt to maintain control over the colonies.

The Franciscan order was very good at utilizing the local folklore to communicate the Gospel message and in doing so, helped establish a new people with a new way of life... the Tejano culture in the north. A ministry of hope is great at stirring the spirit of change.

The Mexicans learned of the US Constitution and liked what it contained, but some differed in their approach by favoring a stronger central government and preferred this idea over states' rights. This centralized government became key for the corruption to dominate the people of Mexico and keep it from becoming one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

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    Hi Terry Arbeiter and welcome to History SE. Adding sources would improve your answer and make it more likely that people will upvote. Sep 6, 2019 at 3:31
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    "This centralized government became key for the corruption to dominate the people of Mexico and keep it from becoming one of the wealthiest countries in the world" nope, nope, and nope.
    – user31561
    Sep 6, 2019 at 10:30

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