Vatican report snag to Mexican ex-president’s marriage plans

December 10, 2008

Mexicans have long suspected their former President Vicente Fox was a little barmy. The tall, mustached one-time Coca-Cola executive is known for his racial gaffes, a very public falling out with Cuban leader Fidel Castro in 2002 and clumsily flaunting his wealth in glossy magazines in impoverished Mexico. Now — in a painful snub for a president who broke with decades of repression of the Catholic Church in Mexico by openly practicing his Catholic faith and even attending a papal Mass — the Vatican has decided that Fox has a personality disorder and may not be fit to remarry with the Church’s blessing.

Fox, a conservative who ended 71 years of one-party rule in 2000, wants a church wedding for his second wife and former press secretary, Marta Sahagun. The couple wed in a surprise civil ceremony in 2001 and planned to tie the knot before a Catholic priest in Asturias, Spain next year. Sahagun has already bought her wedding gown, Mexican media say.

(Photo: Vincente Fox and his wife Marta Sahagun, 26 Oct 2002/Claudia Daut)

According to confidential documents obtained by the Mexican online magazine Reporte Indigo, the Vatican last year annulled Fox’s first marriage of 20 years, but only because he is “self-obsessed and narcissistic and has a personality disorder.” That diagnosis by Vatican doctors means he is unfit to remarry in the Catholic church because he leads a double life, hiding his “hysteria” and his insincerity behind the politician’s mask, it says. The Vatican did not question his fitness for public office, however.

On Dec. 7, Fox confirmed to reporters the existence of the Vatican documents, said they should never have been made public and argued they had been misinterpreted following their publication. He declined to comment further, saying the process was confidential. “I love Marta and as soon as I can I am going to marry her. I am saving for the wedding, “ he added.

Fox stunned the country in 2002 when he knelt to kiss Pope John Paul II’s ring during the pontiff’s visit to Mexico.  The country has a long history of anti- clericalism and religious persecution. It only established diplomatic ties with the Vatican in 1992. Given Fox’s support for it, the Catholic Church in Mexico may yet come to the rescue with some lobbying on his behalf. Mexican Archbishop Jose Guadalupe Martin, from the central city of Leon, says he sees no reason why Fox cannot marry in church.

(Photo: Fox kisses ring of Pope John Paul, 30 July 2002/Andrew Winning)

Mexico’s best-known social commentator Guadalupe Loaeza says Fox, who was generally well-liked as president even though he achieved little in the way of new legislation, is misunderstood. “He’s crazy all right, but crazy for love … Is that a sin?” she asks in a column.

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