Despite this relatively recent accommodation, the Church has not remained quiet on the issue of poverty. Historically, as the government failed to care for the people, the Church assumed greater responsibility and became more vocal in complaining about the government's shortcomings. Today the Church, which once strove mainly to preserve its own authority, has emerged as an outspoken opponent of the government. Yet aggressive Church actions were evident early in the century, both in opposition to the anti-clerical language of the 1917 constitution and in the violent Cristero rebellion of the 1920s. From 1926 to 1929 Mexico faced strong resistance by Catholics who opposed the anticlerical component of the Constitution of 1917 that regulated the affairs of the Catholic Church. After the emergence of liberation theology among Latin American Catholic priests in the 1970s, Mexican clerics became vocal in their condemnation of oppressive government policies. In 1991 clerical officials leveled a broad range of charges against the government including torture, abuse of prisoners, political persecution, corruption, and electoral fraud. These charges were repeated by Pope John Paul II in his 1999 visit when he called for an end to "violence, terrorism, and drug trafficking." The Church has been critical of the government by supporting the rebellion in the southern state of Chiapas. Tension between church and state emerged again as recently as 1994 when the government attempted to blame the Chiapas uprising on the language and actions of various clerics.
Traditionally regarded as a woman's issue, birth control has become a mainstream political issue since the 1970s. After all, through the combined effects of cultural expectations to raise large families and the Catholic Church's ban on birth control, the population grew dramatically. Women who chose not to have children resorted to crude abortions. In 1970, the year Luis Echeverr'a became the first Mexican president to call for a reduction in the nation's population, as many as 32,000 Mexican women died from abortion complications. Although discussions of population control have long been taboo by the Catholic Church, 1972 saw a reversal when Mexican clerics called for reduced family size. Thereafter government support enabled family planning clinics and educational programs to be developed. By 1988 the Mexican annual population growth rate was nearly halved, to 1.8%.
Women in Mexico have been pushing for significant changes within the political and social arenas, and they are slowly gaining access to previously male-dominated spheres. For example, they are now elected as state governors and as representatives in the Chamber of Deputies. Increasingly they are leaving bad marriages in spite of condemnation from the Church and hostility from their own families. Indeed, there is growing liberation from the traditional roles and expectations for women in Mexican society.