(Vatican Radio) This evening Pope Francis will celebrate Holy Mass, this time in Ciudad Juarez at the end of his six day stay in Mexico. But in the morning his first appointment will be at the Cereso 3 State prison in the city which used to be a hotspot of gang power.
Our Correspondent in Mexico Veronica Scarisbrick tells us more.
For many years now Ciudad Juarez has represented first for Mexicans and then for Central Americans a personal dream, that of crossing the border to reach ‘El Norte’, the United States.
This search for a better future for most has often become a dashed dream. For those who make it here crossing the border is often impossible, for those without papers the risk of falling into the hands of traffickers is even greater.
Just imagine for a moment the state of mind of migrant minors who reach this desolate place, dubbed until not so long ago the murder capital of the world. A place notorious for the unsolved murders of hundreds of women and rife with all kinds of violence, much of it gang and drug based.
Located in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert, it’s Mexico alright but without a crumb of glamour. There’s a river which provides a natural physical divide, and a looming chain link fence divide.
And it’s by this chain link fence that Pope Francis will celebrate Holy Mass on the evening of Wednesday 17th of February at the end of his six day stay in Mexico. Right on the border with the United States, so near that it’s within earshot of the El Paso inhabitants on the other side of the fence.
Pope Francis flies in to Ciudad Juarez in the morning and his first appointment is at the Cereso 3 State prison which used to be a hotspot of gang power.
Officials with the diocese say 800 inmates have already been chosen for that special meeting with Pope Francis, half of them women. On this occasion he will also meet with family members.
Ciudad Juarez is not a place for the faint hearted but it seems that when Pope Francis arrives here the worst of the bloodshed of this once hell hole has been left behind.
Certainly during this Jubilee Year of Mercy it will give Pope Francis a chance to console prisoners, workers, and the inhabitants of this long suffering Mexican City.
Inhabitants many of whom have been orphaned, widowed or simply traumatised by the violence they’ve witnessed.
With Pope Francis in Mexico, I’m Veronica Scarisbrick