IMAGE: CNS photo/David Maung
By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In a video message one week before his
apostolic visit, Pope Francis asked the people of Mexico for some time alone
during his visit to pray before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“I would like to ask — as a favor from you — that
this time, which will be the third time I will step on Mexican soil, to leave
me alone a few
minutes in front of the image. That is the favor I ask. Can you do that for
me?” he said in the video released Jan. 3 by the Mexican news agency NotiMex.
The video featured men and women from different cities in
Mexico asking the
pope questions about the
visit he has planned to their country Feb. 12-17.
“I’m going to Mexico not as a wise man bearing things,
messages, ideas or solutions to problems,” he responded, but as a pilgrim
in search of something from the Mexican people.
“I am not going to pass around the collection basket so
don’t worry about that,” the pope said. “But I will seek the wealth
of faith that you have;
I want to come in contact with that wealth of faith.”
Their wealth, he said, comes from the fact that they are not
an orphaned people but one with a mother who “forged hope” in them.
“You all know the joke of that Mexican man who would
say, ‘I am an atheist, but I am Guadalupan.’ It makes sense,” he said, because it reflects the
feeling of “a people who does not want to be orphaned. There,
perhaps, is the great wealth that I will seek. I will go as a pilgrim.”
When asked about his thoughts about Our Lady of Guadalupe,
the pope recalled his visits to Mexico in 1970 and 1998, adding that
“safety” and “tenderness” are what come to mind when
thinking of Mary.
“How many times I have been fearful of a problem or
that something bad has happened and I don’t know how to react and I pray to
her. I like to repeat to myself, ‘Do not be afraid; Am I not here, I, who am
your mother?'” The words are those Mary said to Juan Diego when she
appeared to him.
Several men and women asked the pope for help in confronting
violence brought on by corruption, drugs and human trafficking in the country.
The “Mexico of corruption, the Mexico of drug trafficking, the Mexico of
cartels is not the Mexico our mother wants,” the pope replied, adding that
people “must fight for peace, but not with war.”
“I would like to be an instrument of peace in Mexico,
but only with you all,” he said. “It’s obvious that I can’t do it
alone — I would be crazy if I said that (I could) — but together with you all,
(I visit) as an
instrument of peace.”
Pope Francis also said he will visit as a “servant of faith” for
the people, in the hopes that the faith may flourish in their private and
“Our faith is not a museum faith and the church is not a museum. Our
faith is a faith born from contact, from speaking with Jesus Christ, our savior, with the
Lord,” he said.
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