(Vatican Radio) Speaking on the eve of Pope Francis’ departure for Mexico, the (Vatican) Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said the Church there is called “to condemn evil and speak out against all negative phenomena such as corruption, drug trafficking, violence and crime which are hindering and delaying the spiritual and material progress of the country.” The cardinal's remarks came in an interview with the Vatican Television Centre (CTV).
Asked about the main themes of the Pope’s pastoral visit to Mexico, Cardinal Parolin said these themes are common to all his travels and his pontificate such as the themes of “mercy, justice, peace and hope.” However, he said they also include those which are particularly relevant to Mexico as a nation, such as the deep faith of its people and their extraordinary Marian devotion and the amazing culture, both of the nation and its people, including the indigenous communities. The Cardinal said the Pope will also touch on the more negative issues afflicting Mexico such as organized crime, drug trafficking and poverty.
Noting that Pope Francis will visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe during his visit, the Secretary of State agreed that this papal journey will have a strong Marian component given the deep devotion of Mexicans for their country’s patron saint, who he said is “right at the centre and the heart” of their history and their lives. He said he was always very moved when he saw “how much veneration and how much trust” are placed in Our Lady of Guadalupe by the people of Mexico.
The theme of this papal visit to Mexico is “Pope Francis: Missionary of mercy and peace” and when asked how this journey can be seen within the context of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Cardinal Parolin said he believed that through his presence in Mexico the Pope wishes to be “a help to the nation, to the Church of that nation to rediscover and live in its daily life, the proclamation and witness of mercy.” The Cardinal also noted that Pope Francis will meet with a wide variety of Mexicans to remind everybody about this challenge to embrace mercy in daily life, from the politicians through to the indigenous people. He said the Pope will be reminding all those he meets during his trip of this need to be merciful.
Asked about the challenges facing the Church in Mexico, Cardinal Parolin said a definite challenge is to condemn “the evil” that is present, “and speak out against all negative phenomena such as corruption, drug trafficking, violence and crime which are hindering and delaying the spiritual and material progress of the country.” The local Church, he continued, also needs to act like” the Good Samaritan” when faced with so many people who suffer and are in need. The cardinal also mentioned the problem of migration and its often negative impact on families who get split up. As ever, Cardinal Parolin said, the Church’s main challenge is to educate the consciences of the people and speak up against the idolatry of money and other negative phenomena. When it comes to the evils of forced migration, arms and drug trafficking, he said Pope Francis will be urging people to fight against these problems and above all to change their hearts.
Turning to Friday’s meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, Cardinal Parolin described this historic meeting as “a great sign of hope” and also an event that gives us the courage to continue to push ahead in the effort to build "an understanding, a meeting and a dialogue." The Cardinal also said he believed that this meeting in Cuba will have “a big impact” on the ecumenical journey.