In February 1927, with one stroke of the pen, Mexican President General Plutarco Elias Calles turned every priest in his country into an outlaw. He ordered them to leave their posts, wherever they were, and to report immediately to Mexico City.
When they refused to obey, they faced arrest, imprisonment, and even death. Most went into hiding.
A young Jesuit priest, Father Miguel Augustin Pro, was already used to operating incognito. For two years, Calles had been enforcing harsh measures against the Catholic Church. The revolutionaries in power had overthrown an oppressive government and an unjust economic system more than a decade earlier. They considered the Church a corrupt institution that had historically sided with the rich, not the poor. Now they wanted a national church controlled by the state.
The new laws forced priests to avoid the authorities by conducting Mass and hearing confessions secretly in private homes. Lay Catholics were also at risk of being thrown into prison if they were found to be harboring a priest.
Enthusiastically, Pro embraced the challenge to serve his…
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