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Sorrow and hope

“Hope” is the key word of Benedict XVI’s Visit to Mexico. A Visit that intentionally embraced the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean, the second half — with the eagerly awaited stop in Cuba — of this long Papal Journey. Against the background of the Independence, the reference to the Continental Mission in Aparecida, launched by the most recent General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops, rang out several times in the Pontiff’s words. This was for a purpose that will tie in with the upcoming Year of Faith: to establish in an immense area of the world — predominantly Catholic — the need to proclaim the Gospel anew in order to resist the temptation, ever present in the Christian community, to let faith become a superficial routine.

In his Homily and in his words at the Angelus, beneath the gaze of the statue of Christ the King set upon Mount Cubilete, the — not only geographical — centre of Mexico, Benedict XVI spoke of hope, present within the problems of the country and of many parts of the continent: echoing the incisive greeting of Archbishop José Guadalupe Martín Rábago of León, who described among other things a devastating cultural and moral change. The Pope therefore referred to the separation suffered by many families who were forced to emigrate and the hardship of many others caused by poverty, corruption, violence, drug trafficking and crime.

In this time, marked both by sorrow and by hope, Benedict XVI commented on the Gospel passage — listened to, during an exemplary Mass, by half a million of the faithful who filled to overflowing the immense Bicentenary Park — in which John records the request of the Greeks to see Jesus and his answer which declares his glorification on the Cross. It is the same message expressed by the kingship of Christ, indicated by the regal crown and the crown of thorns of the statue on Cubilete, which in his five Journeys to Mexico John Paul II was never able to visit: the kingdom of the one Lord is not in fact founded on power but on the love of God that wins over hearts and demands respect for human life and its defence and promotion, the growth of brotherhood in order to rise above revenge and hatred.

Moreover hope is founded on the coming of Christ, who was rejected and put to death but who, through his very Passion, brought about salvation. Evil cannot prevent the divine will from saving man nor does it have the last word in history, Benedict XVI said in his Homily at Vespers with representatives of the Bishops’ Conferences of the continent. And in continuity with his Predecessors, he confirmed the closeness to them of the Successor of the Apostle Peter.

With his Visit to Mexico the Pope was able to move the Mexicans’ hearts, showing with simplicity his affection for the multitudes of people who had waited for hours to see him even only for a moment, and pausing especially with the weakest and the lowliest: from the families of the victims of violence to the sick and to children. To these “young friends”, he wanted to dedicate a meeting during which he repeated the essence of the Gospel: God wants us to be happy and if we let him change our hearts we will truly be able to change the world.

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St. Peter’s Square

June 21, 2018

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