Pope condemns drug Trade’s, violence in Mexico
Earlier in the day, Pope Francis called on Mexico’s elected leaders to provide basic rights to their citizens and blamed individualism as the root of the country’s most pressing challenges, including rampant corruption and ongoing drug violence.
Flanked by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, the pope addressed congressmen and women, governors and the civil and diplomatic corps in the first of three major events Saturday, the second day of his visit to Mexico.
Pope Francis condemned the drug trade’s “dealers of death” and urged Mexicans to shun the devil’s lust for money as he led a huge open-air Mass for more than 300,000 people Sunday in this violence-riddled city.
“Let us get it into our heads: With the devil, there is no dialogue,” the pope said at the biggest scheduled event of his five-day visit to Mexico.
In his introduction, the president welcomed the pontiff and said his visit meant a lot to the people. He also listed challenges his country faced — but notably made no mention of the violence and drug trafficking that has ravaged the nation. Francis, however, was keen to engage the topic.
“He’s coming to Ecatepec because we need him here,” said Ignacia Godinez, a 56-year-old homemaker. “Kidnappings, robberies and drugs have all increased, and he is bringing comfort. His message will reach those who need it so that people know we, the good people, outnumber the bad.”
In a clear reference to the drug lords who hold sway in the city’s sprawling expanses of cinderblock slums, Francis focused his homily on the danger posed by the devil.
The pope, referring to himself as a “missionary of mercy and peace,” called on elected leaders to guarantee access to basic necessities for all citizens, such as affordable housing, dignified jobs, food security and safety.
“Only the power of the word of God can defeat him,” the pope said. In a final prayer, he urged Mexicans to make their country into a land of opportunity “where there will be no need to emigrate in order to dream, no need to be exploited in order to work, no need to make the despair and poverty of many the opportunism of a few, a land that will not have to mourn men and women, young people and children who are destroyed at the hands of the dealers of death.”
During the mass, the pope referenced the families affected by the country’s on-going drug-related violence. He spoke about how, through the apparition of the Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531, God awakened hope among people even today, including “the suffering but resilient hearts of so many mothers, fathers, grandparents who have seen their children leaving, becoming lost or even being taken by criminals.”
The is the first time Mexico, which has a large devoutly Catholic population, has been visited by a pontiff who can be considered a neighbor. Pope Francis, born Jorge Mara Bergoglio, hails from Argentina. There was a brief moment of concern punctuated by gasps from worships as Francis stumbled while trying to sit down on a chair. He finally sat down and quietly prayed.
At the end of the mass, Francis blessed a golden crown that will be placed atop the basilica’s image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Outside the church, several hundred people gathered to watch the service on a large screen. Despite the large crowds, Jose Carlos Garduno, 19, had hoped to sell more candles than he did.
Each time we seek the path of privileges and benefits for the few to the detriment of the good of all, sooner or later the life of society becomes a fertile soil for corruption, drug trade, exclusion of different cultures, violence and also human trafficking, kidnapping and death, bringing suffering and slowing down development, the pope said.