“Forced migration is a global crisis,” declared Pope Francis during the homily at a mass held in Ciudad Juarez near the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We cannot deny the humanitarian crisis” due to migrants traveling thousands of miles across mountains, and deserts, said the pontiff at the event held on the final day of his six-day visit to the Latin American country.
Theirs is a “journey wrought with terrible injustices: enslaved, kidnapped, blackmailed (and) our brothers” exploited by the business of human trafficking.
In his view, it is a humanitarian crisis that is measured “by names, by histories, by families” among those making the arduous trek northbound through Mexico.
“To say of the many women worse lives have been unfairly taken away,” the pontiff added seemingly in recognition of the thousands of femicides occurring in the northern border region.
The former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina recognized the work of civil organizations and clergy members who defend migrants “on the front line while risking their own lives."
He noted “it is time for salvation, for mercy” and urged the tens of thousands of people attending the mass to “ask God…to open our hearts.”
“No border can prevent the mercy we share between our brothers and sisters,” said the Pope who acknowledged those following the mass in El Paso including those flowing a live telecast at the Sun Bowl Stadium.
He later thanked the Mexican people for their hospitality and admitted that there were occasions that he wanted to weep after observing “so much hope among a people who have suffered.”
Prior to the pope’s message in Juarez, migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border region held high expectations that he would acknowledge their difficulties and provide a sympathetic voice:
A letter sent to Pope Francis from the Border Network for Human Rights was read at its Monday rally. The letter, signed by about 200 families, was delivered to the pope Monday, said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network…
"We ask that you direct your voice and message to the powers that be that enact public policies that criminalizes and oppresses us; we ask that you lift the spirits of immigrants to a worthy place, for Jesus himself was an immigrant," the letter stated in part.The Pope did not shy from discussing immigration during his visit to the U.S. last year by urging political leaders “not to turn their back on our neighbors” and praised those who open their hearts towards migrants.
During his time in Mexico, the Argentine-born pontiff called on youth gathered in Michoacán to reject violence and “dare to dream” of a better future, while in Ecatepec he urged Mexicans to resist the temptations of greed and corruption. It remains to be seen how many cold hearts he may have warmed such as a former associate of imprisoned Knights Templar drug gang leader Servando Gómez Martínez who attended the Pope’s mass on Tuesday in Morelia.
YouTube Source – EFE (“The Pope stood and prayed at a cross situated near the U.S.-Mexico border…and subsequently blessed hundreds of followers on the U.S. side of the Rio Bravo.”)
Online Sources (English) – BBC News, The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, The Latin Americanist, USA TODAY
Online Sources (Spanish) – Excelsior, El Universal, El Informador