just the smells and bells and funny tales, thank you

It looks like Mexico has the right attitude toward the Catholic Church: We'll take the fun parts and the pretty parts, but don't tell us what to do!

...there is a troublesome, yawning divide between the teachings of the church and the beliefs of Mexican Catholics. The divide is clear in surveys showing that Mexicans favor birth control, oppose religious education and are open to abortion.


"The church is always full on Sunday," [said a seminarian in a working class neighborhood of GUADALAJARA] "Rituals are easy for the people. But they do not turn to the church when they are making choices in their lives. And if they do turn to the church, many of them reject what the church demands."


Last week [the Vargas family,] David Vargas, 45, an ironsmith, and his wife Leticia, 42, invited the seminarian for lunch. The lunches offer an opportunity to spread Catholicism in an intimate setting, Mr. Barajas said. But the Vargas family seemed intent on giving the church a piece of their mind.

"Why is it that people who are divorced are prohibited from Communion?" Mrs. Vargas asked. "Divorce does not seem like a sin to me."

The aspiring priest responded, "Divorce on its own is not a sin."

But he was interrupted. "Why does the church consider it wrong to use birth control?" Mrs. Vargas said, turning toward her 23-year-old daughter, Janet. "Would the church rather we have children we cannot care for?"

While Mr. Barajas squirmed for an answer, Mr. Vargas tried to lighten the mood.

"My wife and I don't always agree," he reassured the seminarian. "We still believe in the Catholic Church. We just think it needs to grow up in some areas."