Pope Francis asked Mexico’s indigenous population on Monday for forgiveness over the exclusion they have suffered as he led a mass in native languages in impoverished Chiapas state.
The pope also used the open-air service in San Cristobal de las Casas to warn that the world faces “one of the greatest environmental crises” in its history.
The pope’s trip to Chiapas addressed the state’s indigenous community, the poverty that afflicts it (76% of the state lives in poverty, 32% in extreme poverty), and the alienation they feel toward the church, he also touched on migrant rights and the environment.
— David Agren (@el_reportero) February 15, 2016
“The environmental challenge that we are experiencing and its human causes, affects us all and demands our response,” the 79-year-old pontiff said.
“We can no longer remain silent before one of the greatest environmental crises in world history,” he told the indigenous congregants.
“In this regard, you have much to teach us. Your peoples… know how to interact harmoniously with nature,” he added.
“And yet, on many occasions, in a systematic and organised way, your people have been misunderstood and excluded from society,” he said.
“How sad this is! How worthwhile it would be for each of us to examine our conscience and learn to say, ‘Forgive me!’ Today’s world, ravaged as it is by a throwaway culture, needs you!”
Like migrants fleeing Central America, Pope Francis will travel north from Chiapas.
He will stop in Michoacan, aviolence-wracked state in Mexico’s southwest, where bloodthirsty gangs have terrorised the population.
His visit there will also likely mention the priests who, along with residents, have stood up to criminals.
Those clergymen have paid the price, as the 40 of them killed over the last decade have made Mexico the most dangerous country for priests in the Americas, according to El Pais.
The pope’s trip will conclude on February 17 in Ciudad Juarez, the northern border city that was, just a few years ago, the most violence city in the world.
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