In a poignant and often gripping homily Saturday, Pope Francis used the occasion of an historic mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe to hammer home concerns about violence and individualism that have emerged as the political undercurrent of his visit to Mexico.
During the mass, the pope referenced the families affected by the country’s on-going drug-related violence. He spoke about how, through the apparition of the Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531, God awakened hope among people even today, including “the suffering but resilient hearts of so many mothers, fathers, grandparents who have seen their children leaving, becoming lost or even being taken by criminals.”
The is the Pope’s first time Mexico, which has a large devoutly Catholic population.
Drug-trafficking gangs have infiltrated police forces across the country and more than 100,000 people have been killed in drug violence over the last decade. Some 26,000 are missing.
“Experience teaches us that each time we seek the path of privilege 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, the drug trade, the exclusion of different cultures, violence and also human trafficking, kidnapping and death,” the pope said in a speech to Peña Nieto, the government and foreign diplomats.
He said Mexico’s leaders have a “particular duty” to move past corruption and violence and work for the collective good.
From the U.S. border to the indigenous south, Francis will visit some of Mexico’s poorest and most violent corners on his five-day trip.