Viva Cristo Rey!

This film, based on a true story, looks terrific!

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I admit that, like many Americans, my understanding of the Cristero War is pretty sketchy. I know about the martyrdom of the Jesuit priest Miguel Pro (how many great martyrs have been Jesuits!) and I had heard of Bl. Jose Sanches del Rio, and I know that these Catholic sisters were founded by a brave and determined Mexican woman, and that they still sing “Viva Cristo Rey!” But honestly, that’s about all I know.

Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey writes:

I’ve had a chance to look at a very rough cut of this film, and it’s very impressive. For Greater Glory tells the story of the Mexican government’s attempt to stamp out the Catholic Church under President Calles (played by Ruben Blades), and the uprising that followed, a civil war that killed 90,000 people. Calles attempted to enforce the anti-clerical laws put into Mexico’s 1917 socialist Constitution by demanding the expulsion of foreign priests, banning public demonstrations of faith (including the wearing of clerical garb), and making criticism of the government by priests punishable by five years in prison. A boycott organized by the Catholic Church prompted Calles to get even tougher, and open war broke out. Enrique Gorostieta (Andy Garcia), a general who had fought for the winning side in the revolution, chose to lead the Cristero rebellion, and the film focuses mainly on Gorostieta, two of his lieutenants, and a young boy named Jose Sanchez del Rio, who was later beatified by the Catholic Church.

Without knowing how the finished product turns out, I can’t offer a formal review. I can say that the film is gripping even in its current form. For Greater Glory definitely takes a pro-Cristero point of view, but Braveheart took a pro-Scots point of view as well, and I’d argue that For Greater Glory sticks closer to the known facts (although obviously much gets left out of a two-hour movie).

Given the recent government efforts to marginalize churches (and church-related workers) and push them out of the public arena, I’d say this is a pretty timely film. The dialogue seems a little cliched to me. Will be interesting to see how it is received and reviewed by some.

And maybe the flick will bring back mustaches, too. I like mustaches!

Related: Exile: The Past is Prologue

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Kml

    Looks great! I just pulled out Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory again for another read, which if memory serves also deals with this time period. I first read it almost a decade ago, and at the time the plot seemed rather far-fetched and removed from my life. Somehow, it seems more immediate now. Great, gritty, inspiring read.

  • Paula J Rodman (@PJRodman)

    I also know little about this story…seems like we should in light of current affairs, it’s a small world eh? I remember reading about Masonic attempts to stop the church in Mexico and that many priests were martyred due to their efforts. Is that part of this story?
    Is there a book the movie is based upon? Kml-thanks for the book recommend…it does sound relevant today- indeed.

  • Celsa Echeandia

    During the 1959 revolution in Cuba political prisoners were quickly and without trial sentenced to death by firing squad at the infamous “paredon” (killing wall) – many died while shouting Viva Cristo Rey! Abajo el Comunismo!

  • conservativemama

    If Andy Garcia is there, I completely trust this film. His movie about the Cuban Revolution, “The Lost City,” was fantastic. It deserved so much more attention than it received. For me, it was like watching the home movies that I never had. That movie put pictures to the stories I heard all my life from my mother.

    I look forward to this movie.

  • Victor

    Listen Dear Anchoress,

    While Victor is praying and well you might as well say he’s doing nothing for this so called “Lent” that you so called Katholics believe in. Look we’ve spoken to these so called imaginary 7% cells of Victor’s so called “Jesus” and long story short, our 93% Kingdom are willing to team UP as “ONE” with Victor’s so called 7% “Jesus” cells. We alien gods know that He does not really exist but we like what He stands for and between U>S (usual sinners) we’re having problem finding human bodies to live in and so we’ve decided to recruit all these so called unwanted soul cells that have been discarded daily and we’re working on a replica of Victor’s DNA body cell as we speak and some of them, Victor’s cells says that if this Old Bomb of Ma is really that bad, Victor is also willing as “ONE” to “he list sit” some of his 7% imaginary galaxy cell spirits that was given to him at his so called baptism. We don’t really believe “IT” but between you anchor and your follow hers, why fight with someone who truly believes that he was made in the image of GOD (Good Old Dad) cause we know about “The Power of Possitive Thinking”. Personally speaking if just one of his cells are as powerful as His or “This” so called Word made flesh, well, even the army of demons would give him a little respect and just because Victor is crazy is no reason not to at least listen to what this Jesus cell of his has to say! Right? Who knows they might be more powerful than those dogs of 1946 that we were going to put incharge of your Katholic church and we already have a 33 star general who agrees to help U>S in our fight and “I” think he goes by the name of “saint general peter hand lay”. Weather you believe or not, all we need is for Victor to wake UP and give U>S (usual sinners) his blessing and we’re on our way but Anchoress Victor says that he’s waiting for you to give him the ok sign so what do you say?

    I hear ya Anchoress! I’ll contact Victor when I’m good and ready sinner vic and tell him what “I” want for him to do but in the mean time, please don’t contact me again here during “Lent” cause the walls have ear here and are able to hear what we’re talking about. Between you, me, myself and “I”, we never had this little conversation especially during “Lent” if you know what “I” mean so unless you’ve got Victor’s blessing in the real world, please just “Let “IT” Be” if you get my drift? :)


  • Bender

    The film was shown at World Youth Day 2011, back when it was named Cristiada. I’ve been waiting since August for its theatrical release.

  • Fuquay Steve

    Huh? What’s that above all about?

    I listened to a talk on this war and I learned that the farewell : Adios was banned since it refers to God. Anyone saying it were subject to fine or imprisonment. How crazy is that?

  • Mark

    Someone was just talking to me about a person with demonic possession and now I come here to see Victor post

    Great story. Looking forward to the film to see how it is finished. I also heard recently that the book “Song at the Scaffold” which was made into a play is being considered for a movie. This of course was about the Martyrs of Compiègne were fourteen French Discalced Carmelite nuns where killed at the orders of the government to obey the Civil Constitution of the Clergy that subordinated the Roman Catholic Church in France to the French government.

    I think the making of these kinds of films are important for people in our country to see. Certainly what people went through in Germany and in every other country where religious liberty came under attack and how that turned out is an eye opener and one that our media should be shouting about right now as their freedom of the press is right behind it in the first amendment.

  • dry valleys

    So, for that matter, does “Goodbye” (God be with you) and Grüß Gott (which presumably your friend Benedict would say to his Bavarian pals).

  • SKay

    “Calles attempted to enforce the anti-clerical laws put into Mexico’s 1917 socialist Constitution”
    Obama has said that he does not like the U S Constitution as written and we see that he thinks that the Church should be more “reasonable” and listen to —-him. Where will the Constitution and the Church be in this country if he is re-elected for four more years?
    As the saying goes–those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.

  • doc

    Mark, I was thinking along similar lines. It’s as if Victor is pushing a virtual shopping cart, shuffling along, muttering random, yet disturbing, phrases while everyone uncomfortably looks the other way.

    Celsa, I’d add to your post that, today hip students, professors and Hollywood types proudly don t-shirts bearing the image of the executioner.

  • Bender

    what people went through in Germany

    Highly recommended is Sophie Scholl: The Last Days“In 1943, as Hitler continues to wage war across Europe, a group of college students mount an underground resistance movement in Munich. Dedicated expressly to the downfall of the monolithic Third Reich war machine, they call themselves the White Rose. One of its few female members, Sophie Scholl is captured during a dangerous mission to distribute pamphlets on campus with her brother Hans. Unwavering in her convictions and loyalty to the White Rose, her cross-examination by the Gestapo quickly escalates into a searing test of wills as Scholl delivers a passionate call to freedom and personal responsibility that is both haunting and timeless.۠”

    Sophie was Protestant, but she was highly influenced by both Blessed John Henry Newman and his “theology of conscience,” as well as Blessed Clemens August von Galen, the Catholic bishop of Münster who forcefully spoke out against Nazi policies. In fact, the White Rose was founded after Sophie and other members, including her brother Hans and Christoph Probst, both featured in the movie, read anti-Nazi sermons by the “Lion of Münster.”
    The film is based on historical records and much of the dialogue is taken directly from long-hidden official transcripts of the case.

  • Sean Gallagher

    KML–John Updike wrote the introduction to the edition of “The Power and the Glory” that I own. In it, he talks about how, while Greene spent so little time in Mexico, he actually portrayed what it was like to live there during that time very well and that’s according to people who lived there then.

    I’m very much looking forward to seeing this movie.

  • Mark

    Bender, there seem to be a number of Germans who finally got the evil or the Hitler policies and they had to battle the huge numbers that supported Hitler based on their lives being better or German pride restored after WWI and Versailes. Too many feel powerless today with no real voice or opportunity to say STOP. The evil one will teach that there is no real difference between this evil and the others evil, but these people have one major problem shown here and at many other sites. They cannot come up with anything on the other side that is even with the biggest distortion proportional to the 54 million killed in the abortion mills or in the case of the Nazi’s, the death camps. Thus, without a clear reason, their support of the evil has to be put in the same catagory as the germans who supported Nazi’s. They do it for their own selfish reasons.

    We need to hear as many of these stories as we can for in many ways we are fighting the godless evil who I believe is quarterbacked and coached by the same being, Satan. Any time you see those fighting religious beliefs, it is pretty certain you will find massive evil in that camp be it the death camps or abortion mills. This can only happen in a state when the religious are silent by their own choice or by the state and those that support the evil state as needed.

  • Patrick Hoelscher

    It’s a shame they had to cast Eva Longoria

  • Joseph

    Yes, very timely. It may not be that bad here now, yet, but it will be if we let it. We are trending in that direction. We choose our leaders, and we ultimately bear responsibility. I hope this movie gets a wide release, instead of only one or two theaters per city.

  • Peggy

    This is the first time I have heard of this film, and was thinking it would be a small one, hard to find, etc. Then I watched the trailer and thought, hey, that older priest looks like Peter O’Toole….

    it looks beautifully made. I hope and pray it will get a wide release. nowadays I see nothing sympathetic, nothing complimentary, nothing encouraging or even neutral coming from the wider culture on Church-related topics. Also, too many of our compatriots seem oblivious to the threat to the free exercise of religion, or if they do recognize it, do not appreciate the implications and won’t get off their duffs to protest. There is a want of critical thinking ability in our society, despite the supposed emphasis in schools on acquiring that skill. Many don’t have the content knowledge to apply that skill anyway and they will not read history in their own. But they do go to movies…

  • SKay

    Interesting that this administration has such a problem with voter IDs–considering that groups like ACORN were trying to register Disney characters etc before the 2008 election. In my state a state ID is free so there is no cost problem there.
    I am concerned about the integrity of this election.
    We saw problems in several states where the voting results were close in 2010–particularly in the Senate races. There was a reason why Soros used his money to help get Democrats elected as Secetary of State in as many states as possible.

    It may not always be the case that the voters are the problem.

  • searavens

    Anchoress, I see that the Carmelite Sisters mentioned in your post are inviting all to join them in a novena in response to the HHS mandate threatening religious freedom, beginning this Sunday.
    Also, in response to Peggy above: I just watched “The Way”, which is very respectful of Catholic life (the two priests shown are compassionate and likable — when was the last time you saw a Hollywood priest like that!) without being strictly about religion. It just won a Christopher Award.

  • Rudy

    The war against the Catholic Church in Mexico goes back a long way. In the 1820′s the American ambassador to Mexico Joel R. Poinsett (famous for introducing the Poinsettia Flower of Mexican origin to the U.S.) started the work of dividing and pitting Mexican leaders against each other as a way to keep the new Mexican Republic from being a threat to the U.S. Some of his work included founding and encouraging Masonic lodges and spreading liberal ideas against the “Obscurantist” and traditional Mexican Catholicism.

    In the 1830′s an American influenced ultra-liberal politician Manuel Gomez Farias became President in one of the many times the dictator Santa Anna left office, and started to implement many anticlerical laws in order to destroy the influence of the Church in Mexico.

    In the 1850′s the Liberals had organized under 33 degree Mason Benito Juarez and open war exploded between the Conservatives trying to keep the traditional order of things and the Liberals and their Mason, French Revolution, American instigated ideas and ideals. The Liberals won this so called “War of Reform” (Guerra de Reforma) a name inspired on Luther’s XVI Reform, mainly through arms sent by the U.S. and threats to France and other European powers no to intervene. Of course what America was doing was implementing the Monroe Doctrine (America for Americans) and practicing robust Manifest Destiny (such as taking all the Mexican lands from the Louisiana Border all the way to the Pacific Ocean).

    After the French lost their colonial war in Mexico and their puppet Emperor Maximilian was shot also mainly though American support for Benito Juarez, the Conservatives and the Church that had mainly supported the French and Maximilian as a way to try to stem the Liberals, were completely defeated and marginalized. After 1867 the Liberals controlled the country pretty much until the year 2000.

    Eventually the Liberal General Porfirio Diaz came to power and governed for about 30 years uninterrupted (nothing compared to Cuba’s Castro regime of 50 years plus). While many think Diaz was conservative, he was not, he was a Liberal who fought for Juarez first. He came to a “working” accommodation with the Church during his years in power, but the harsh anticlerical laws of the Juarez regime were never repealed and it was in that time that Mexico started to loose its Catholic identity as the government took over the educational system, confiscated Church property and forbade clerics from any political activity.

    When Diaz fell after a period of chaos in a war waged mainly between liberal factions, ultimately the Jacobin radical Plutarco Elias Calles came to power. His hatred for the Church was intense. He sought to eradicate it. Very much like Henry VIII he tried to create a “Mexican Church”. His radical imposition of the Juarez laws created a backlash and finally Mexican Catholics rebelled in the so called Cristero War (1926 -1929). It was brutal. Priests were outlawed, hunted, tortured and killed in most horrible ways (hanged, shot, decapitated, buried alive, etc) and Mexican Catholic rebels suffered the same fate. The war increased in brutality but the Government mainly won. But Elias Calles run the luck of most Mexican rulers until then; he was deposed in a palace coupe and exiled to the U.S. by his henchman Lazaro Cardenas. Calles had been succeeded as President by Cardenas under the agreement that the real ruler would be Calles, but his protegee pull a fast one on the old tyrant.

    Calles eneded the Catholic persecution in a tacit detente where the status quo antebellum was implemented. Nothing changed in the laws, but these were applied only selectively. Calles thought that Catholicism would die a slow death of irrelevancy in time and so the Church-State living compromise that lasted until recently came to be.

    The ultra liberal, Jacobin Mexican left is alive and well in the person of the PRD, the off-spin of the PRI and represented by current Mexican Mayor Marcel Ebrad, who has legalized abortion and same sex “marriage” in Mexico City.

    Long Story. I lived a third of my life my native Mexico so I have a little bit of “onsite” experience.


  • Rudy

    “Calles eneded the Catholic persecution in a tacit detente where the status quo antebellum was implemented. Nothing changed in the laws, but these were applied only selectively. Calles thought that Catholicism would die a slow death of irrelevancy in time and so the Church-State living compromise that lasted until recently came to be” I meant Cardenas in this paragraph.

    PRD = Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (Party of the Democratic Revolution)
    PRI = Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party), the party that ruled Mexico for over 70 years and the ideological heir to Gomez Farias, Benito Juarez, Plutarco Elias Calles. The PRD separated from the PRI, and it consists of mainly ultra-liberal former PRI members, of strong leftist and socialist ideas.

    The current president is member of the PAN = Partido Accion Nacional (National Action Party) a center right party of conservative, Catholic leanings, heir to the Cristero movement in a certain manner. The PAN was the only real opposition party to the PRI for over sixty years.

  • Pete in Mpls.


    Thanks for the info. I’ve always been curious as to the reasons behind Mexico’s harsh persecution of the church. I haven’t met a native Mexican yet here in the states who is not Catholic. Are there a lot of non Catholic Mexican citizens at this point in time?


  • M. Swaim

    Director Pablo Barrosso will be on the radio to talk about it tomorrow (Friday 3/23) at 8:20AM Eastern if you want to hear about his take on the whole thing. You can listen live at

  • SKay

    Very interesting post about what liberalism has done to the Church in Mexico–and to Mexico itself, Ruby. Thank you.

  • You Go Anchoress

    Yes, I agree this might be a good time to reread Greene’s The Power and The Glory … And I love the C.S. Lewis quote in one of your links. “Omnipotent moral busybodies” are indeed the biggest threat to freedom today.

  • Steve
  • Rhinestone Suderman

    C.S. Lewis was a prophet! Read his book, “That Hideous Strength!”

    Thanks for the information, Rudy!

    doc, I think we all need to pray for Victor. Is there such a thing as on-line exorcism? (The internet, as a whole, could probably benefit from that!)

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Pete, yes, almost all the Mexican hispanics I’ve met have been devout Catholics, and their religious belief runs very deep! Same with Filipino Catholics (who are undergoing persecution of a different sort, these days.)

    One of the lessons of the 20th Century is that totalitarian states do not like most religions—certainly not the pacific ones, such as Buddhism, or the Judeo-Christian ones. The state wants to be god, and will suffer no other gods before it.

    A good book to read during Lent would be Eric Metaxas’ biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.”

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    And, yes, “The Power and the Glory” would be a good read, too.

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  • sonny

    @Rhinestone Suderman I am not aware of “Filipino persecution.” please tell. i am Filipino

  • Rudy

    @ Pete in Mpls above:

    Mexico today is about 75 -80 % “Catholic” and either 15 – 10 % Evangelical Protestant. In the last 30 years the Evangelical Pentecostal movement has grown exponentially. Yet of the great Catholic majority, only a few are actually practicing Catholics and of those many lack a solid knowledge of their faith. Along side the Catholic practice they also are into “Santa Muerte”, Tarot, witchcraft and there is a strong superstitious side mixed with a syncretistic strain. 175 years of war against Catholicism by the liberals has left its mark but the syncretistic strain goes all the way back to the Spanish Conquest.

    Mexicans in the U.S. tend to drift towards Pentecostalism and they bring with them the problems from our native land; ignorance, poverty, out of wedlock pregnancy. In the other hand, there is a strong mystical and faith component to Mexican Catholic practice that if channeled in the right direction can be a great strength to the Catholic faith, along with a strong commitment to family. That is my view and opinion anyway. Saludos.


  • Peter in Mpls.

    Thanks Rudy! I’ll pray for that channeling in the right direction. That would be a great witness for us in the States.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Sonny, I was talking about Moslem insurgents attacking non-Moslems in the Philippines.