(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday 16th of February was in the capital of Michoacán, Morelia, hotspot of drug related violence to meet with young people at the ‘José Maria Morelos y Pavòn’ stadium.
Veronica Scarisbrick is in Mexico and reports on this joy-filled encounter
When he arrived in what looked more like a golf cart than a pope mobile and made his way over a makeshift lawn, the Pope was greeted by the indigenous people of Michoacán in their traditional embroidered costumes, a splash of yellow, red, blue and a touch of green.
And when a few of the 50.000 of the young people gathered there spoke, they thanked Pope Francis for coming to Morelia and asked him for a word of hope.
One young man, Alberto, highlighted how happy they all were that Pope Francis had come as a messenger of peace and reconciliation. How in Mexico over thirty million young people wish to live in peace.
And then another young man touched on a sore point here. That’s to say the high rates of unemployment which lead many to despair and consequently to avarice, corruption and the temptation of an easy life at the margins of legality. The victims of the drug trafficking, of violence of exploitation are on the increase, he said, and the only thing left for many families is to shed tears for the death of our loved ones. Impunity, he explained, has been on the side of those who kidnap, defraud and kill. Holy Father, he begged, we wish to be builders of peace; we would like our loved ones not to be affected by violence. How can we Catholics receive the peace of Christ and be His messengers like you?
It was a moment of sharing and joy and Pope Francis, who upon his arrival in Mexico had said that one of Mexico’s greatest treasures is that it has a youthful face repeated these words, smiled and seemed to draw energy from so much youth.
He told the young people they should still believe in dreams. That the principal threat to hope is to allow oneself to believe that one is only worth something when one starts wearing the right clothes, the latest brands and fashions, or when one enjoys prestige, or are important because one has money; but in the depths of one heart one does not believe that one is worthy of kindness or love. The biggest threat, he went on to say, is when a person feels that they must have money to buy everything, including the love of others, the biggest threat is to believe that by having a big car you will be happy.
You are the wealth of Mexico, you are the wealth of the Church Pope Francis added. I understand, he insisted, that often it is difficult to feel your worth when you are continually exposed to the loss of friends or relatives at the hands of the drug trade, of drugs themselves, of criminal organizations that sow terror. But hand in hand with Jesus we can believe it is a lie to believe that the only way to live or to be young, is to entrust oneself to drug dealers or others who do nothing but sow destruction and death.
You have asked me for a word of hope, he continued, and the one I have to give to you, is Jesus Christ. When it seems that the world is crashing down around you embrace His Cross, draw close to Him and please never let go of his hand. And then the Pope and the young people burst into song and prayer. And after praying the young people went wild with joy and more song.