Pope asks Mexican people for a few minutes alone with Our Lady of Guadalupe
Francis says Mexico must fight corruption and drug cartels in personal video message
Pope Francis has asked a favour of the Mexican people when he visits their capital city next week: that they would give him a couple of minutes alone in front of the image of the Virgin Mary at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, when he celebrates Mass next Saturday (13 February).
In a video message filmed before his apostolic visit by the Mexican news agency NotiMex, Pope Francis said: "I would like to ask - as a favour 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 favour I ask. Can you do that for me?"
The video features men and women from different cities in Mexico asking the Pope questions about his visit to their country, which is planned for 12-17 February.
"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."
When asked about his thoughts on Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Pope recalled his visits to Mexico in 1970 and 1998, before he was even a bishop, adding that "safety" and "tenderness" is what comes 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".
"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 saviour, with the Lord," he said.
Mexico has been blighted by endemic corruption and cartel violence on a wide scale that has killed over 100,000 people in the past ten years, according to Reuters news agency. Victims include 43 students who disappeared and whose deaths have still not been solved.
During his five-day visit, Pope Francis will meet civil society campaigners, indigenous people from Chiapas, prisoners at Cereso prison and sick children at a hospital.
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