When the Catholic Faith Was Outlawed | Jim Graves | Catholic World Report
For Greater Glory offers a compelling depiction of a dark period of Mexican history.
After decades of seeing their Church maligned in cinema, Catholic moviegoers have enjoyed a smattering of pro-Catholic movies in recent years. The latest of these, For Greater Glory starring Andy Garcia, will be released in the United States on June 1. The movie tells the story of the Cristero War in Mexico (1926-29), a peasant uprising against the stridently anti-Catholic policies of the Mexican government under President Plutarco Elias Calles. Garcia portrays General Enrique Gorostieta, a retired federal general hired by the Cristeros to be their leader.
“It’s a fascinating story, and one I previously didn’t know anything about,” Garcia said about the Cristero uprising.
The war erupted in 1926, after Calles implemented the “Law for Reforming the Penal Code” or “Calles’ Law,” which severely restricted the free practice of religion in Mexico. Among other regulations, the law levied a 500-peso fine (nearly $5,000 in the U.S. today) on priests or religious wearing clerical garb in public, and clerics who spoke out against the government could be jailed for five years.
The Mexican bishops suspended public religious services in response to the law, and supported an economic boycott against the government. Violence soon erupted, as bands of Catholic peasants battled federal forces. Priests were shot and hung, Church property seized, and many religious institutions closed. Ninety thousand would die over the next three years. The Cristeros’ battle cry was, “Viva Cristo Rey!” (“Long live Christ the King!”).
For Greater Glory was filmed in seven different states in Mexico, with a Mexican crew and an international cast. It had a budget of $11 million—modest by Hollywood standards, but a significant sum in Mexican filmmaking—and was a hit when it was released with Spanish subtitles in Mexico, Garcia said.