(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday celebrated Holy Mass at a stadium in Morelia, capital of Michoacán, urging Mexican priests, religious and seminarians not to be resigned to the paralyzing injustice of violence, corruption and drug trafficking.
Veronica Scarisbrick is in Mexico following the Pope’s five day pastoral visit to the country and reports on the problems plaguing young people especially in the state of Michoacàn
Michoacán was once known as ‘The Garden of New Spain’. But it’s more likely to be referred to today as a flourishing garden of drug cartels. So, a place of unspeakable drug related violence. Interestingly the Holy Mass the Pope celebrated was both in Spanish and in ‘purhépechan’, the indigenous language of this area.
And in this city where the drug cartels are incredibly powerful and permeate people’s lives his homily reflected what he called a ‘permanent system’ of violence with corruption, drug trafficking , disregard for human dignity and indifference in the face of suffering and vulnerability. Confronted with this reality, he strongly insisted we must not be led into temptation, the devil can overcome us with one of his favourite weapons: resignation.
And then Francis spoke of the value of tapping into our memories when we are tempted. In a special way he mentioned the figure of the first Bishop of Michoacán Vasco de Quiroga back in 1536. A man, he explained, who left an interesting legacy.
As I discovered this first Bishop had adopted Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’ as a model. Making quite sure the indigenous people were taught religion, crafts and the fundamentals of self-government. His legacy lives on to this day. Indigenous people have passed down their know how and are masterfully skilled craftsmen, producing from guitars to pottery, from copper products to woven woolens.
Interestingly Pope Francis referred to Vasco de Quiroga in his homily as ‘the Spaniard who became an Indian’. One who spoke of these indigenous people “as being sold, humiliated and homeless in marketplaces, picking up scraps of bread from the ground“. And one the Pope went on to say who far from being tempted to resignation succeeded in kindling the faith in the midst of so much ‘paralyzing injustice’.
‘Paralyzing injustice’, a fitting expression which could relate to today in this land of ‘gentlemen narcos’.
It’s one which affects more than anyone here perhaps the young people of Morelia with whom Pope Francis will meet in at the ‘José Maria Morelos y Pavòn’ stadium.