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Pope in Mexico: An overview of the nation’s many challenges

Mexican farmer works in a poppy field in a nation where drugs-related violence is widespread. - AFP

Mexican farmer works in a poppy field in a nation where drugs-related violence is widespread. - AFP

11/02/2016 16:37

(Vatican Radio)  Our correspondent covering the papal visit to Mexico is Veronica Scarisbrick who looks at the main political, social and economic problems afflicting the Latin America nation.


Listen to Veronica Scarisbrick’s report: 


Mexico is a land of contrasts, of deep religiosity and helpless violence.

Where the people who are 80% mestizo are part of their colonial past but represent both conquerors and conquered.

Where in popular spirituality there’s a blend of Spanish Catholicism and native American religious traditions somehow united in the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Where despite signs of improvement at an economic level, with an emerging middle class tied to its northern neighbour the United States, most people live in what the nation’s President Enrique Pena Nieto has admitted is “backwardness and poverty”  while a happy few prosper.

Pope Francis comes as ‘a messenger of peace’ during this Jubilee Year of Mercy. But while he has said he isn’t coming to Mexico to solve problems he has also outlined these problems beginning with the drug issue, drugs which he has described as “messengers of death”.

His exact words to the Mexican people in an interview with the agency ‘Notimex’ were: “If I come to you it is to receive the best of you and to pray with you”. But then he did add that he did not want to sweep under the carpet the Mexico of violence. On the contrary his message on this occasion was to urge Mexicans to fight against corruption, against war, against disunity, against organised crime, against human trafficking.

Pope Francis knows all too well that many of his priests here are doing exactly that at a grass roots level. Speaking to some of them here , like Bishop Raul Vera Lopez who outlined to me the root causes of the escalating issue of the ‘desaparecidos’ I was astonished at the courage he had in denouncing  uncomfortable truths in which these contrasts emerge. Truths related to abuse of human rights he communicated to Pope Francis in the Vatican in December of last year.

But while Mexico may be a land of contrasts Pope Francis is not a man of extremes, he believes in dialogue and his message is always the same. It’s contained in a document he helped pen as Cardinal Jorge Maria Bergoglio of Buenos Aires in 2007. It’s the ‘Aparecida’ document which encapsulates his vision of the Church. A document he’s presented to all of the Latin American heads of State he’s met since the beginning of his pontificate. If that’s correct that includes Mexico’s President, Enrique Pena Nieto.

The message of that document is that of a preferential and evangelical option for the poor. And on February 12th of February he comes to walk through the peripheries with the people in a missionary drive as part of a service to humanity and the environment here in Mexico. Mexico... a word which means the navel of the moon.

Awaiting Pope Francis in Mexico, I’m Veronica Scarisbrick

11/02/2016 16:37