Pope Francis Visit to Mexico May Bring Hope to the Nearly Hopeless
Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. (Max Rossi/Reuters)
After a long series of half-confirmations and leaks that began with the pope himself, we finally know that Pope Francis is coming to Mexico in February. And if the pope gets his stated wish, he'll not only make the traditional pilgrimage to the Shrine of Guadalupe, but he'll also visit Ciudad Juárez on the Mexico-US border.
Francis is well aware of the challenges facing Mexico. In a leaked private e-mail, he expressed worry about metastasizing drug violence in his home country, terming it the "Mexicanization" of Argentina. He's even wondered out loud whether the devil might not be punishing Mexico with crime and mayhem on account of its deep popular religiosity. And when a year ago the Mexican government was still fiddling and pretending there was nothing to see when 43 students disappeared in the southern state of Guerrero, the pope was one of the first public leaders to call it for what is was, murder.
The wounds from the murder of the 43 are still fresh, and government officials are still nervous that the papal agenda may include a visit to Ayotzinapa, where the students were abducted. One year later, the reverberations from that still fully unexplained carnage - was it cartel gangsters? was it the state? was it both? - continue to rack Mexico, shaking political institutions, motivating fed-up grassroots organizations and eroding what little credibility President Enrique Peña Nieto still has. Ayotzinapa tore the already tattered mask off of Mexico's open secret, that a dark nexus unites drug cartels, police, army and politicians; and that a generation of young Mexicans is being sacrificed on the altar of narco-violence, corruption and neoliberal economic policy.
Pope Francis has proven himself a deft deployer of symbols, eschewing the anachronistic trappings of the papal court, putting migrant deaths in the Mediterranean on the world political agenda with a visit to the then-unknown island of Lampedusa, and bestowing the cardinal's hat on pragmatic pastors in touch with the poor rather than on worldly archbishops in important global capitals. A visit to Ciudad Juárez would provide a rich symbolic contrast - a visit to globalization's so-called "City of the Future" by the world's most credible critic of globalized capitalism and advocate for those on the margins.
Read the rest at The Huffington Post
Related: Catholic Students to Congress: Stand With Pope Francis on Climate Change, Immigration Reform (Christian Post)
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