The superstar of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, began his six-day Mexico trip last Friday. His agenda includes addressing the drug violence, migration issues and corruption in Mexico. He will be traveling through the country’s poverty and violence stricken slums.
Pope Francis, never one to shy away from championing the world’s poor, used his first stop in Ecatepec to call out Mexico’s rich and corrupt elite. Ecatepec is a slum that is said to be watched over by Santa Muerta (Saint Death), where metal crosses line the streets -- each commemorating a recent murder. Francis urged his audience to stop the violence and make Mexico a ‘land of opportunities’. A challenge in a city where residents are afraid to even go to work. Francis acknowledged this, stating that the drug lords and corrupt rich aided in the country’s endless cycle of ingrained violence and poverty.
Francis did not leave any target out of this social justice sermon. He even harangued Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto as well as the current government's ministers.
Francis acknowledged that violence throughout Mexico is rampant, but true justice needs to be served for peace to be achievable.
Pope Francis blasts drug violence, scolds bickering bishops, stumbles and falls, but still thrills Mexico City https://t.co/88CNZwUm7R— YvonneWingettSanchez (@yvonnewingett) February 14, 2016
The pope will end his trip in the northern border city of Ciudad Juárez. There, he will break with past tradition once again. He plans on visiting a prison, meeting with families affected by violence and speaking on illegal immigration into the United States.
In the last decade, Mexico has experienced extreme violence spurred on by a cycle of poverty. More than 100,000 people have been killed by drug violence, and it is estimated that 26,000 are missing. During President Peña Nieto’s time in office the murders of women have doubled.
Pope Francis is iconic in his rhetoric for the poor, and courageous in his condemnation of the politically and socially powerful who fail to act responsibly. It can only be hoped that in the nation with the 2nd largest Catholic population in the world, that this religious leader can spark the change the people need. Pope Francis has proven himself a global citizen time and again, in Mexico his words should appeal to, and motivate, everyone.