The Return to Human Sacrifice in Mexico
In the year 1531, Our Lady appeared to a lowly Mexican peasant by the name of Juan Diego.
At the time, Mexico was still in thrall to the blood-thirsty ancient Aztec religion, in which human sacrifice played a key role. Diego himself was of Aztec descent. However, he and his wife were among some of the first Aztecs to be baptized after the arrival of a group of Franciscan friars.
In becoming Christian, Juan Diego accepted a religion that differed radically from that followed by his own people.
A 2011 article in History Today recounts but one example of the unbelievable scale of Aztec slaughter. “[The Aztecs were] a culture obsessed with death: they believed that human sacrifice was the highest form of karmic healing,” wrote historian Tim Stanley.
When the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan was consecrated in 1487 the Aztecs recorded that 84,000 people were slaughtered in four days. Self-sacrifice was common and individuals would pierce their ears, tongues and genitals to nourish the floors of temples with their blood. Unsurprisingly, there is evidence that Mexico was already suffering from a demographic crisis before the Spanish arrived.
However, the appearance of Our Lady to Juan Diego marked a turning point in the history of Mexico. Over and against the vicious, blood-thirsty gods of the Aztecs, we find the image of a woman, pregnant with new life, calling the Aztec people to conversion. Rather than gods that demand blood, Our Lady pointed to the sacrifice of her Son, who gave His blood for the salvation of all—offered as a free gift, accessible through repentance, faith, and baptism.
In the wake of the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego, the Christian religion spread like wildfire. Millions of indigenous Mexicans converted to the Christian faith in the ensuing decades. Unsurprisingly, human sacrifice quickly died out, in part because the Spanish conquistadors outlawed it, but eventually because such barbarity was completely incompatible with the widespread acceptance of a faith that preached radical love of God for human beings, who were made in His image and likeness.
The result is that since the 16th century, Latin America, under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe, has been a powerful example of a dynamic Catholic culture. Even as most of the developed West has fallen to atheism and post-modern barbarity, including the widespread killing of preborn human beings in legal abortion, Latin America has held fast, valiantly fighting to protect a Culture of Life.
Mexico’s Giant Step Backwards
The steadfast refusal of Latin American nations to follow the West off the moral cliff has angered many international pro-abortion organizations. In recent decades, wealthy and powerful Western NGOs have poured money into Latin America, in the hope of chipping away at the pro-life consensus.
While most of the region has stood firm, there have been significant cracks in the foundation. In 2007, for instance, Mexico City legalized abortion more-or-less on demand, up to 12 weeks in pregnancy. Then, in 2021, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled against one state’s pro-life laws, creating a precedent that pro-life activists worried would be used to attack the pro-life laws in the country’s other states.
Now, just a few days ago, that fear seems to have been realized. The Supreme Court of Mexico has once again intervened, issuing a ruling stating that the criminalization of abortion is “unconstitutional,” and which seems likely to massively expand abortion in the formerly pro-life nation.
The Court, in a sickening statement, argued that “criminalization of abortion constitutes an act of gender-based violence and discrimination, as it perpetuates the stereotype that women and people with the capacity to get pregnant can only freely exercise their sexuality to procreate and reinforces the gender role that imposes motherhood as a compulsory destiny.”
As is so typical of pro-abortion statements, nowhere do we find any mention of the other person involved in an abortion: i.e., the preborn child, whose life is ended in every abortion.
Currently, legal scholars are debating just precisely how far-reaching the effect of Mexico’s Supreme Court’s decision will be. Complexity arises from the fact that many of the individual states still have pro-life laws on the books. Since this decision only applies at the federal level, abortion is still technically illegal in many of those states. As the New York Times notes, “Wednesday’s ruling has no effect on local laws, and abortion remains illegal in 20 of the country’s 32 states.” In coming weeks and months, therefore, there is likely to be a protracted battle over how the Supreme Court decision will be implemented in various states.
However, Luis Martinez, Human Life International’s director and representative at the Organization of American States, explained to me just how devastating he believes this Supreme Court decision is.
According to Martinez, not only is this decision akin to Mexico’s “Roe v. Wade,” in some respects, it is even worse than Roe. As he noted, under the decision “not only abortion is eliminated as a crime in [the Mexican state of] Aguascalientes, but in Mexican federal legislation,” with the result that “all health institutions throughout the country, under federal jurisdiction, must offer abortion services.” This includes the Mexican Social Security Institute, the largest health institution in all Latin America, which serves some 70% of the Mexican population.
The decision, added Martinez, “makes it clear that any local or federal legislation against abortion will be challenged and annulled judicially and that even in the 20 States in which it is still prohibited, women will be able to have abortions in federal institutions.”
Furthermore, whereas Roe had legalized abortion under vague and ultimately extremely weak 14th Amendment “privacy” considerations, the Mexican decision is based upon stronger “equality, non-discrimination, and the right to health” grounds, potentially making this decision even more difficult to overturn.
As Martinez told me, it is deeply troubling that even as abortion is beginning to recede in the United States, with many individual states outlawing abortion, in Latin America there is growing pressure to move in the opposite direction. Mexico, he noted, is a “political reference” for Latin America. There is a risk that abortion activists will use the situation in Mexico as a “wedge” to push for change in neighboring nations.
With this decision, Mexico has taken another giant step backwards, returning in spirit to the time before the appearance of Our Lady to Juan Diego, in which human life was held cheaply. Now, in Mexico, preborn human children can legally be sacrificed to the modern paganism that has swept so many “developed” nations.
The Blue Wave
Even as we mourn this latest decision, however, we must be careful not to fall for the media narrative that the legalization of abortion is somehow “inevitable” in Latin America. This is the message that pro-abortion activists have always preached, in the hopes of discouraging pro-life activists.
Discouragement and despair are from the Evil One. If pro-life activists in the United States had given in to this temptation, we would never have seen the reversal of Roe, and the building of a formidable movement that has saved the lives of untold hundreds of thousands of preborn children. Every evil ideology has its day, but in time sanity is restored after people witness the evils unleashed by false, inhuman ideas.
In Mexico, pro-life activists are vowing not to give up the fight. Irma Barrientos, director of the Civil Association for the Rights of the Conceived, told the Associated Press, “We’re not going to stop. Let’s remember what happened in the United States. After [nearly 50 years], the Supreme Court reversed its abortion decision, and we’re not going to stop until Mexico guarantees the right to life from the moment of conception.”
In the abortion debate in Latin America, those supporting legalized abortion have adopted the color green, whereas those supporting the right to life of the preborn have adopted the color blue. The media loves to talk about a supposed “green wave,” that is going to topple pro-life laws across the continent.
It is true that pro-abortion forces have won some victories in recent years, including in Argentina, Colombia, and Uruguay. However, pro-life activists have been mobilizing with remarkable coordination across the continent, organizing massive demonstrations wherever pro-abortion forces have attempted to broach the region’s pro-life defenses. In many Latin American nations, oceans of blue have met every “green wave,” repeatedly repelling the oncoming assault.
Pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe
Clearly, a great battle for life is being fought across Latin America right now. This latest decision from the Mexican Supreme Court is a devastating blow to Mexican pro-lifers, and a death sentence to innocent preborn children.
As the Mexican bishops noted in a statement after the ruling, the Court decision “normalizes the throwaway culture and leaves the authorities and society as a whole without responsibility for the care and protection of all human life.” The “conception and birth of a new life represent a good whose value is infinite,” the bishops added. As such, “it would be deplorable to institutionalize violence against the weak with the permission of the law.”
The bishops added that, “faith helps us look more deeply at the terrible drama of abortion,” and urged Catholics to “proclaim before everyone the greatness and dignity of every man, whose life is a gift of God; a gift that requires being welcomed and protected in all its forms just as Jesus Christ has taught us, who is the way, truth, and life.”
Our Lady did not appear to Juan Diego in vain. Thanks to Our Lady’s intercession, the Mexican people turned their back on the blood-thirsty forces of paganism. With Our Lady’s intercession, they can once again repel the modern pagan forces that would reinstitute human sacrifice.
Please join me in praying to Our Lady of Guadalupe for Mexico, and the entirety of Latin America. Protected by Our Lady’s mantle, Latin America can continue to serve as a beacon to the world of how it is possible to build a culture on a radical respect for all human life.
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Father Shenan J. Boquet was ordained in 1993 and is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Roman Catholic Diocese in Louisiana, his home state, where he served before joining HLI as its President in August 2011. Father Boquet earned a BA from Saint Joseph Seminary College, a Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Notre Dame Seminary Graduate School of Theology, a Certification Program in Health Care Ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and a Master of Science in Bioethics (MSBe) from the University of Mary in Bismarck. In 2018, Father Boquet was awarded an honorary visiting professorship by the Benedict XVI Catholic University in Trujillo, Peru. He is available for interviews and bookings on behalf of HLI by emailing email@example.com.