“You are the wealth of Mexico”, Pope Francis said with conviction to the thousands of young people who had gathered in the stadium in Morelia on Tuesday afternoon, 16 February. He dedicated the entire day in the state capital of Michoacán, the geographical centre of Mexico, to the younger generations. Indeed, prior to this great and exciting celebration, Pope Bergoglio had celebrated Mass for priests, men and women religious, and seminarians in another stadium of the ancient city, and he then met hundreds of children in the cathedral, where he improvised a short and sweet lesson.
In his homily during Mass, the Pontiff spoke on a topic very close to his heart: prayer. He said that “praying is something learned, just as we learn to walk, to speak, to listen”. Once again, Francis condemned violence, corruption and drug trafficking, succinctly summing up these temptations. “Faced with this reality”, he said, “the devil can overcome us with one of his favourite weapons: resignation”, an attitude “which also entrenches us in our ‘sacristies’”.
In this small city, and linked by video to a public square in Guadalajara, the Pope described young people as “the wealth of Mexico” and “the wealth of the Church”. Again he raised his voice against drug trafficking, condemning repeatedly during this journey the devastating crime which, since his years in Buenos Aires, has always concerned Bishop Bergoglio. “I understand that often it is difficult to feel your value when you are continually exposed to the loss of friends or relatives at the hands of the drug trade, of drugs themselves, of criminal organizations that sow terror”.A good antidote is to remember our history as the Pope did, recalling Vasco Vázquez de Quiroga, who in the 16th century was the first Bishop of Michoacán. In fact the Pope celebrated Mass with the chalice and pastoral staff of “the Spaniard who became an Indian”. Dear to the indigenous populations, Vasco, known as Tata (“Papa”), is exemplary for his reaction to injustice: “The pain and suffering of his brothers and sisters became his prayer, and his prayer led to his response”, the Pontiff summarized. The Mass was concelebrated by Archbishop Alberto Suárez Inda of Morelia who, in a surprise move a year ago, was created Cardinal by Pope Francis.
The Pontiff’s condemnation is rooted in faith in Jesus Christ, because “it is he who continually renews in me this hope, it is he who continually renews my outlook”. Jesus, the Pope said, is “the only one that can grab me firmly by the hand”, who can lift us up should we fall. As in mountain climbing, where “triumph is not in not falling but rather in not staying down”, Jesus is “the only one who can take you by the hand so that you are not left lying on the ground”, Francis said, improvizing and expanding on the speech he had prepared.
At the end, the Pope addressed to the young people spontaneous words in praise of the family. Indeed it is in the family that “we learn solidarity, how to share, to discern, to walk ahead with each other’s problems, to fight and to make up, to argue and to embrace and to kiss”. As “the first school of the nation”, the family safeguards the wealth that young people represent, the hope brought by Christ, and the dignity to withstand evil.
St. Peter’s Square
July 23, 2019
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