Pope Francis has vowed to give voice to the downtrodden during his trip to Mexico, and many in Ecatepec, where the pontiff will visit Sunday, say he’s picked the perfect place.
“This place is terrifying,” said Guadalupe Reyes, whose 18-year-old daughter disappeared from Ecatepec in 2014. “If you’re talking about people on the margins, that’s us.”
One of the most crowded, impoverished and violent parts of the country, Ecatepec — a bedroom community of Mexico City — registers one of the highest rates of killings and disappearances of women in the country.
It appears that no papal journey to Mexico is complete without someone handing the leader of the 1.2-billion-member Roman Catholic Church a sombrero. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI donned them during their visits. Now it’s Pope Francis’ turn. By our count, he’s worn at least three during his trip.
Sara Hernandez came to the papal Mass clutching half a dozen yellow balloons. As she got closer to the Juarez fairgrounds, the homemaker bought a dozen papal key chains to keep the bunch from floating away.
Her 8-year-old grandson, Kevin, had inscribed one of the balloons with an important message -- not for the pope, but rather for his dead father.
"I wish that you were here with us dad," he wrote, misspelling "wish" in Spanish.
The pope saluted "our brothers and sisters" in El Paso, who were following a live broadcast of the Mass at the Sun Bowl stadium, adding that thanks to technology, "we can pray, sing and celebrate together ... and that no border can prevent us from sharing."
Gracias a la ayuda de la tecnologia, podemos orar, cantar y celebrar juntos ese amor misericordioso que el Senor nos da, y el que ninguna frontera podrá impedirnos de compartir.
Pope Francis did not cross into the United States but stayed in the scruffy city of Ciudad Juarez, once infamous for a sky-high murder rate, especially of young women. But his message was clearly intended for both sides.
He decried the global “human tragedy” that forces people to migrate unwillingly, risking death -- “each step, a journey laden with grave injustices: the enslaved, the imprisoned and extorted.”