Pope Francis’ pastoral visit to Mexico is remarkable because of the extreme bluntness and candor with which the Holy Father speaks regarding the needs of the Mexican Church and people. The Holy Father has continued to surprise the Universal Church with his activities since his canonical election, but the theological consistency with which Pope Francis preaches is indeed a hallmark to his pastoral message. The Church in Mexico is indeed severely wounded because of the political intrigues and lack of a strong episcopal hierarchy that lacks the abilities to effective negotiate with the Mexican government. After this papal visit, the bishops of Mexico will have no questions regarding the direction Pope Francis wants them to take regarding the role of the Catholic Church.
Forgiveness and mercy is the touchstone for the message of the Gospel as preached by Pope Francis. Uniquely the message has been the same since the time of the Apostles. However there is a keen sense of urgency with this message for the Holy Father. Perhaps it is the global redistribution of resources that increases the chasm between the wealthy and the poor. More and more, the under privileged, namely those without access to the basic necessities of life, are growing creating the diametrically opposed classes of the, “haves,” and the “have-nots.” What used to be the concern of what was formerly known as the Third World is now visible in the once considered industrialized First World countries and the virus of functional poverty continues to spread.
Mexico for the casual traveler from the United States and most other countries is usually characterized as a resort country, that has beautiful beaches and a sparkling coastline, both of which are true. However, just a few short blocks from the luxury of the hotel districts in Cancun and other Mexican resorts the harsh reality of poverty is readily apparent. Pope Francis’ visit to Mexico is a sobering view of the harsh realities of human life that millions of ordinary Mexican citizens experience daily. Coupled with antiquated facilities for resources such as clean water, equal access to quality medical care and the continued fear of organized drug cartels the real face of Mexican society does not even come close to reflecting the realities of the 21st century, let alone embrace the principles of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis is calling the global community to action, not just in Mexico but throughout the world to work not only for spiritual aspirations, but for social justice and equality of life by proper distribution of natural resources to all peoples.
The Gospel calls all of us to have concern for the poor, the sick, the hungry and those in despair. Quite often, we meet such individuals daily but don’t even realize they are not just in need of a spiritual infusion of the Good News, but an intervention of social realities and legitimate aide, perhaps food, perhaps medicine or perhaps a safe and secure living space. Gospel values are often difficult to implement, because the person in need, might well indeed live a block away from the glitz and glamour of what most of us consider vacation destinations. Outside the tourist strip, the reality is still in the 19th century. Pope Francis’ mission is calling global leaders and Catholics to a total conversion towards following Jesus Christ, not just superficially, but realistically.
Photographs of the Holy Father giving medicine to a sick child…heart melting!
Pope Francis embracing the handicapped along the papal parade route…touching!
Pope Francis…demanding the world to embrace reconciliation and mercy…priceless!