JTA – Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera laid the foundation stone of a Jewish community center in the Cuauhtemoc borough estimated to cost nearly $5.3 million. “The Jewish community is showing a substantial, permanent impulse, honoring ancestral values of their people, but living with this dialectic of Mexico, showing affection to the city and to all who live here,” he said.
JPost -The oldest Jewish document of the New World was returned to Mexico and presented in Mexico City on Thursday, more than seven decades after it disappeared.
AP – Pope Francis is making five more child saints: Two Portuguese shepherd children who said the Virgin Mary appeared to them in Fatima 100 years ago, and three Mexican adolescents who were killed for their Catholic faith in the 16th century.
Crux – Pope Francis’s choice of Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Mexico as a cardinal is yet more proof that Latin America is shaping up to go in the same direction as the rest of the Catholic Church, but it is equally a sign of continuity with his predecessor, Benedict XVI.
Breitbart – The incidence of exorcisms and Satanic deliverance rites in Mexico has risen sharply in recent months, reportedly driven by the growth of the cult to Santa Muerte, a personification of death.
CNA – After Tropical Storm Javier and Hurricane Earl ravaged parts of Mexico over the weekend, Pope Francis offered his prayers and closeness to all those affected by the storms.
Atlas Obscura – Miguel de Palomares was one of the first Catholic priests to come to Mexico in the beginning of the 16th century. Within three years of taking over Mexico City, the Spanish had built the country’s first Catholic cathedral on the site of an Aztec temple. When de Palomeres died, in 1542, that’s where he was buried, underneath a slab of heavy stone. Recently, when a construction crew was digging holes for lamp posts, they came upon that slab.
AP – Mexico’s main archdiocese has taken the unusual step of publicly saying Pope Francis had been badly advised when he directed harsh words to local bishops during his visit in mid-February.
The Daily Beast – The ancient rites of the Aztecs, the brutality of the Inquisition, and, centuries later, the savagery of anti-clericalism all combined to give the Mexican church a very special character.
Washington Post – Overlooking the flood lights and barbed wire that line the U.S. border, Pope Francis on Wednesday quietly prayed for the migrants who have died during their journeys to America and later said a “humanitarian crisis” was prompting people worldwide to leave for other lands.
NPR – In the run-up to his visit to Mexico, Pope Francis promised a clear moral message. He wasn’t coming to gloss over the current ills of corruption and drug violence facing the country. And he didn’t disappoint. Here are five memorable scenes in the pontiff’s five-city tour, and some excerpts from his remarks.
By Richard Marosi and Marisa Gerber / Los Angeles Times
Growing up Catholic in Michoacan state, Alberto Cornejo always marveled at the beauty of the Gothic cathedral in his hometown of Zamora. He watched as workers installed spires, repaired the aging pillars and kept the floors polished.
The constant care and remodeling cost a lot of money and not all of it, he’s convinced, came from legitimate sources. “Narcos have looked out for our pueblos and our churches,” said Cornejo, a 48-year-old cellphone salesman. “It shouldn’t be, but it’s the reality.”
That belief, true or not, is widespread in parishes large and small across the country. Confronted with the expansion of organized crime groups, Catholic Church leaders have faced tough choices and more than a few have given in to traffickers, either cowed or complicit in taking tainted money.
Pope Francis, who travels today (Tuesday) to the violent state of Michoacan, has during his Mexican trip made his feelings clear, most specifically on Saturday during a speech in front of top church bishops, in which he called on clergy to act courageously against an “insidious threat.”
“I urge you not to underestimate the moral and antisocial challenge which the drug trade represents for Mexican society as a whole, as well as for the church,” he said.
The pope’s challenge – an upbraiding of an institution rarely criticized – was hailed for recognizing the widespread perception in Mexico that the church has often failed to protect society and its own priests from drug violence.
Celebrating Mass for more than 300,000 people in one of Mexico’s poorest and most dangerous cities Sunday, Pope Francis took a swipe at the country’s rich and corrupt elite.
Decrying “a society of the few and for the few,” he denounced deep inequality and the vanity and pride of those who consider themselves a cut above the rest.
“That wealth which tastes of pain, bitterness and suffering — this is the bread that a corrupt family or society gives its own children,” the pope said at the Mass in the city of Ecatepec.
Ecatepec is home to a giant statue of “Santa Muerte,” or Saint Death, a cult figure followed by millions across the Americas. The saint is often depicted as a skeletal “grim reaper” draped in white satin robes, beaded necklaces and carrying a scythe, and it is believed to grant requests without judging people.
Francis urged his listeners to struggle to make Mexico “a land of opportunities where there will be no need to emigrate in order to dream” and where drug traffickers, whom he called “dealers of death,” would not ensnare their children.
The Guardian – Mexicans might express misgivings of their political leaders and church hierarchy, but never of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Nearly 500 years after the apparition, 83% of the population still self-identifies as Catholic.
IB Times – The pope arrives in Mexico City Friday to begin a multi-day tour designed to highlight Mexico’s growing struggles with poverty, immigration and corruption. Here is the schedule and access to live feeds.
By Ioan Grillo / Time
The Catholic Church has been criticized for doing too little to fight murderous cartels in Mexico. Will Pope Francis change that?
After a drug cartel left severed heads in town plazas and discos, the Catholic priest Gregorio Lopez realized that he could no longer be silent. From the pulpit in his native state of Michoacan, he condemned the bloodshed and urged his flock to stand up to the gunmen. Lopez, who is known as “Father Goyo,” earned a series of death threats for his courage, and he took to giving mass in a bulletproof jacket.
“I saw how they were killing my friends, my brothers, my sheep, and as the pastor I have the obligation to be speaking out,” Lopez said.
Lopez has since taken a sabbatical from giving mass but continues to serve in the Church.
The drug war has been a troubling challenge for the Church in Mexico, where 82 percent of people profess to be Catholic. Cartel gunmen have beaten and murdered clerics, such as in 2014 when assassins killed a priest from Uganda in Guerrero state and left his corpse in a mass grave. At the same time, drug traffickers have built chapels and given donations to churches, known here as “narco alms.”
Pope Francis is shining a new light on this problem in his first official visit to Mexico, beginning tomorrow, Feb. 12, in which he will travel to some of the country’s most troubled areas, including Michoacan and Ciudad Juarez.
Pew Research -When Pope Francis, the first Latin American pontiff, arrives in Mexico this week, he will be visiting a country that is home to not only the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world, but one of the biggest Catholic populations, too. Indeed, Mexico has the globe’s second-largest number of Catholics, and a larger majority of Mexicans have remained tied to their Catholic faith compared with people in many other Latin American countries.
AP – History’s first Latin American pope travels to Mexico on Friday for a weeklong tour of some of the most violent, poverty-stricken and peripheral places in the Americas. He’ll be bringing a message of hope and solidarity to victims of drug violence, trafficking and discrimination — a message the Vatican hopes will also resonate north of the border.
Dario – Members of the La Luz del Mundo based in Ciudad Juarez will hold a mass baptism on Feb. 14 to integrate new believers to their religion. This event will be held in the main squares of cities in Mexico and 53 other countries where the church is present.
Premier – An anti-persecution charity has said two Mexican Protestants have been able to return to their village, after they were forced out by Catholics urging them to convert.