(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday made his way through one of Mexico City's most lawless neighborhoods, Ecatepec, to celebrate Mass for a massive crowd of faithful.
Fr. Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office, spoke to Veronica Scarisbrick about the exuberant welcome received by the Pope from the Mexican people.
Listen to their full conversation:
Pope Francis, Fr. Lombardi said, has said his main sentiment regarding his welcome in Mexico is gratitude. "He feels that these people who come in the street to show him love, joy for his coming, desire of blessing is something that expresses a love that is without interest, without looking for something material. In this sense, his experience of meeting the people is meeting them in a spiritual way, a joyful way."
Messenger of mercy and peace
He said the key to the Holy Father's Apostolic Journey to Mexico is his coming as a messenger of mercy and peace. The people "understand the presence of someone that is giving to them mercy, love and hope to progress toward peace, if they have a Christian attitude, responsibility, and solidarity for others, as the Pope says the Gospel requires."
The Pope has drawn massive crowds to his events, and Fr. Lombardi said, "This movement of this many, many hundreds of thousands of people on the street ... I think is giving off its fruits in the sense which the Pope hopes: a growth in hope, in mercy, and solidarity."
He said Pope Francis' prayer before the Virgin of Guadalupe on Saturday is "always the atmosphere in which the Pope encounters the people of Mexico, and he asked the Mother of God to bless this people and to help this people to have hope [for] a better future. The problems are very hard, but the Pope encourages them not to be desperate, to try to build a world in which mutual understanding, solidarity, can really confront the situation."
Sunday Mass in Ecatepec
Speaking about the Holy Father's Mass in Ecatepec on Sunday, Fr. Lombardi said, "The people were listening to the Pope very willingly, they had waited for the Pope in a very cool night and morning, but they were very happy to meet the Pope. I think this Mass has been the most massive Mass that we have experienced. In this anonymous and terrific town, the message of love, of solidarity, of being together in love and hope is something very fundamental. We can see how the message of the gospel is needed to be human in this world."
Pope Francis at the end of the Mass told the people to not dialogue with the devil. Fr. Lombardi said his was a very traditional message, which "sometimes seems to be too simple, but in reality it [hits at] the profound roots of the problem. Without a conversion in the heart of everyone and also in society, we will not confront the problem of violence, the problem of disparity, and the unjust distribution of wealth. The origins of the problem are exactly in the temptations of Christ."