Pope Francis fulfilled his much-desired wish to pray in silence before the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe last Saturday. After celebrating the first Mass of his papal trip to Mexico, the Pope made his way to the camarin (“little room”) behind the main altar of the basilica dedicated to Mary. The miraculous mantle, which normally faces the congregation, can be turned around to allow a closer and more private moment of veneration.
The Pope arrived on Friday, having flown via Havana. On Saturday, at a ceremony at the national palace, he met President Enrique Peña Nieto, followed by a meeting with Mexico’s bishops in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico’s new shrine. Laying a bouquet of yellow roses in front of the image, the Pope sat down in prayerful silence with eyes closed and head bowed. After roughly 20 minutes, he stood up, laid his hand on the image and departed from the small room.
About 12,000 people packed the basilica for the papal Mass and another 30,000 were watching on screens set up in the outer courtyard. Built in 1976, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is located near Tepeyac Hill, the site of Mary’s apparitions to St Juan Diego in 1531. With some 12 million people visiting each year, it is Catholicism’s most popular Marian shrine. In his homily, the Pope reflected on the Gospel reading, which recalled Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth.
Mary’s humility in saying “yes” to God’s will, he said, is a response “which prompted her to give the best of herself, going forth to meet others”.
Pope demands that bishops confront the drug cartels
Pope Francis has demanded forceful denunciations of drugs-related violence in Mexico from the country’s bishops, who have preferred timid pronouncements instead of speaking prophetically about a tragedy that has claimed more than 100,000 lives over the past 10 years. Speaking on Saturday to an audience of bishops in Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Francis urged them to confront drug cartels and organised crime by raising their voices, developing pastoral plans, and “drawing in and embracing the fringes of human existence in the ravaged areas of our cities.”
Pope Francis said: “I urge you not to underestimate the moral and anti-social challenge, which the drug trade represents for young people and Mexican society as a whole. The magnitude of this phenomenon … and the gravity of the violence … do not allow us as pastors of the Church to hide behind anodyne denunciations.” The Pope spoke to the bishops for more than 40 minutes, delivering a tough talk on matters he intended to highlight in his six-day trip to Mexico, including violence, migrants and indigenous issues.
Francis decries ‘culture of favours’
Pope Francis told Mexico’s president and government officials that the country’s future can be bright only if government and business leaders put an end to a culture of “favours” for the influential and scraps for the poor. He was talking on Saturday during a meeting with the leaders at the National Palace.
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