(Vatican Radio) (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’s plane has arrived back in Rome at the end of his 6-day pastoral visit to Mexico. The Pope began his visit in the nation’s capital Mexico City and its surroundings and then travelled to the states of Chiapas and Michoacan before ending his trip in the northern town of Ciudad Juarez where he celebrated a mass on the nation’s border with the USA.
Veronica Scarisbrick was in Mexico with Pope Francis and sent us this report on the conclusion of the Pope's visit:
Listen to the report:
The people of Mexico are certainly not used to wearing their hearts on their sleeves. Or not anyway when it comes to Pope Francis. And as he came to their nation as ‘a messenger of peace’ they opened up their hearts and lifted up their faces towards him.
And he was grateful, struck by their love for him, by their joy, by their constant request that he bless them, expressing in private his wonder at their disinterested affection.
In turn he was giving with the Mexican people. In a special way with those on the margins of society.
In this land of contrasts where religiosity and popular piety run deep and where helpless violence reigns he had come for almost a week to walk ‘through the peripheries with them’, the people of Mexico.
And as he departed he said: “Thank you for having opened the doors of your lives to me, the doors of your nation”.
And then Francis quoted from a poem by Nobel laureate Octavio Paz by the title of ‘Brotherhood’. One where this Mexican poet speaks of the vastness of the night, of how if we look up to the skies: the stars hold a written message, one we too are part of. One which is spelt out for us”.
And Francis commented: ‘I dare to suggest that the one who spells out this message for us and indicates a path for us to follow is the mysterious but real presence of God, in the real flesh of all people especially the poorest and most needy” .
Throughout his six days in Mexico Pope Francis has, as a man of God, during this Year of Mercy, visited places where most people fear to tread. From the sprawling lawless ‘barrio bravo’ of Ecatepec where desperate people alleviate their pain by painting colour on to their miserable homes, to Mexico City’s hospital for gravely sick children, to Chiapas were indigenous people have suffered abuse and to whom he asked forgiveness for the Church’s wrongs of the past, to chillingly drug ridden Michoacán where young people are caught in a web of despair, to Ciudad Juarez where he met with the inmates of a high security prison and with immigrants with their dashed dreams.
But he had a message for the men and women of God in this nation as well. To them he expressed the wish that: “Mexican people might find, reflected in their faces, the Lord, the presence of God”. And on another occasion invited them not to be tempted by resignation in the face of ‘paralyzing injustice”.
And upon his departure Pope Francis said to the people of Mexico, nights here can seem vast and filled with great darkness. Despite this, he added, in many of your faces I have encountered the presence of God.
God who carries on walking in this land, guiding you, sustaining you in hope. Many of you with your daily efforts make it possible for Mexican society not to be shrouded in darkness. You are tomorrow’s prophets; you are the sign of a new dawn.
Pope Francis’ visit here has surely provided Mexicans with a cone of light from the skies in the midst of a sea of darkness.
But like his first words here in Mexico, his last were dedicated to the Mother of the nation, ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe’.
Already upon his arrival in Mexico Pope Francis had quoted ‘Octavio Paz’ who once described Guadalupe, the spiritual heart of the nation, as a place of rest where people orphaned and disinherited, might seek a place of refuge, a home.
And as Pope Francis bade farewell to Mexico he said: ”May Mary, Mother of Guadalupe, continue to walk on your lands, helping you to be missionaries and witnesses of mercy and reconciliation “.