Mexican bishops announced plans to hold election workshops

Mexico's Roman Catholic conference of bishops on Monday announced plans to hold election workshops across Mexico to help voters evaluate candidates and political proposals ahead of Mexico's 2006 presidential elections.

Church-state separation is closely watched in Mexico, where many remain suspicious of the Roman Catholic Church, which held a government-enforced monopoly of faith for three centuries. Meanwhile, believers remember state-sponsored repression of religion in the 20th century.

Bishop Carlos Aguiar of Texcoco said the workshops will be nonpartisan and comply with Mexican law, which forbids religious groups from endorsing or campaigning on behalf of parties or candidates. The effort is designed to remind Catholics of their more general obligation to seek "a more just society," he said.

Presidential contenders from Mexico's two largest parties are currently are locked in bruising primary races. The current front-runner, leftist former Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, was stripped of his immunity from prosecution earlier this year before an investigation was dropped against him in an obscure land expropriation case.

Announcing the workshops, Aguiar and two other Mexican bishops explained that the Catholic church in Mexico maintains an anti-abortion stance in the context of elections, AP reports.

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