Sun | Oct 22, 2017

Pope gives tough love to Mexican political, church elite

Published:Sunday | February 14, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Pope Francis dons a Mexican charro-style sombrero in Mexico City’s main sqaure.

MEXICO CITY (AP):

Pope Francis issued a tough-love message to Mexico's political and church elites yesterday, telling them they have a duty to provide their people with security, justice and courageous pastoral care to confront the drug-inspired violence and corruption that are tormenting the country.

The raucous welcome Francis received from cheering Mexicans who lined his motorcade route seven-deep contrasted sharply with his pointed criticism of how church and state leaders here have often failed their people, especially the poorest and most marginalised.

"Experience teaches us that each time we seek the path of privileges or benefits for a few to the detriment of the good of all, sooner or later, the life of society becomes a fertile soil for corruption, drug trade, exclusion of different cultures, violence and also human trafficking, kidnapping and death, bringing suffering and slowing down development," he told government authorities at the presidential palace.

HARD-HITTING SPEECH

In a subsequent hard-hitting speech to his own bishops, Francis challenged church leaders known for their deference to Mexico's wealthy and powerful to courageously denounce the "insidious threat" posed by the drug trade and not hide behind their own privilege and careers.

He told them to be true pastors, close to their people, and to develop a coherent pastoral plan to help Mexicans "finally escape the raging waters that drown so many, either victims of the drug trade or those who stand before God with their hands drenched in blood, though with pockets filled with sordid money and their consciences deadened".

The speech was met with tepid applause, with only a handful of bishops standing in ovation.

Francis' entire five-day trip to Mexico is shining an uncomfortable spotlight on the church's shortcomings and the government's failure to solve entrenched social ills that plague many parts of Mexico poverty, rampant drug-inspired gangland killings, extortion, disappearances of women, crooked cops and failed public services.

Over the coming days, Francis will travel to the crime-ridden Mexico City suburb of Ecatepec, preach to Indians in poverty-stricken Chiapas, offer solidarity to victims of drug violence in Morelia and, finally, pay respects to migrants who have died trying to reach the United States with a cross-border Mass in Ciudad Juarez.