(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis took off from Rome’s Fiumicino airport this morning on an Apostolic visit to Mexico. While there he will celebrate Mass in the Basilica of Guadalupe, meet with families and young people and there will be a Meeting with the World of Culture. He will also make a visit to city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas and celebrate Holy Mass with the indigenous community of Chiapas. Our Correspondent Veronica Scarisbrick who is awaiting Pope Francis in Mexico, found out more about the community and it’s much loved late Bishop.
The late Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia is an iconic figure in Mexico. You may have heard of him, he lived and worked for many years in the southern state of Chiapas along the border with Guatemala. That's from 1959 to 1999.
Precisely at San Cristobal de Las Casas where Pope Francis will go on Monday 15th of February and where he'll celebrate Holy Mass at the City's Sports Centre with the Mayan indigenous community.
Here in Mexico I caught up with someone who worked closely with him and eventually inherited the diocese. He's Bishop Raul Vera Lopez a Dominican who describes the time spent with his predecessor as 'a moment of grace from God'.
Bishop Ruiz was once a familiar figure in his diocese, often perceived riding on the back of a mule along the highland paths on the way to visit the people of one of the villages or towns of his diocese. Speaking to the people there in their own Mayan languages by the unpronounceable names.
But while he was very much loved by the local people who lived in extreme poverty, he was also criticised by the local government and by Rome. Because he had begun to apply the teachings he had learnt both during the Second Vatican Council and from the Medellin Conference of Latin American Bishops. Empowering the indigenous people to defend their cultures and traditions and founding the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas human rights centre.
Over the years Bishop Vera has drawn inspiration from his example and has promoted human rights in every possible way. Recently in a special way he assists parents and families of 'desaparecidos' through an organisation by the name of FUNDEC.
Importantly in December he made it his mission to travel to Rome to inform Pope Francis of the current situation in Mexico regarding human rights. To make quite sure Francis might prepare his Apostolic visit in touch with the reality in the nation today