Illegal Drugs

Pope Francis Denounces Mexico’s Drug Trade

from The Wall Street Journal,

Pontiff in speeches during visit to country also addresses poverty, corruption and rights of indigenous people.s

Pope Francis on Saturday issued a powerful denunciation of the Mexican drug trade, describing it as a social cancer that preys on the young, and he urged the Church to act against it by growing closer to the victims. The pope addressed Catholic bishops in the capital city’s cathedral on his first full day on a visit to Mexico, the world’s second most populous Catholic nation. The country has also been the site of bloody gang warfare as well as fighting between drug cartels and government forces. During the past decade more than 130,000 people have died in the violence, with close to 28,000 having disappeared. As in his address earlier in the morning to dignitaries at the National Palace, the pope’s talk to church leaders touched on themes he is expected address during his six-day tour, including poverty, corruption and the rights of indigenous peoples.

But Pope Francis’ words to the bishops were especially forceful on the drug trade. He urged them to try to save the souls the users as well as those of the drug sellers who “stand before God with their hands drenched in blood, though with pockets filled with sordid money and their consciences deadened.” The pope lamented the temptation for young Mexicans to “commercialize death in exchange for money” and embrace the drug trade’s “macabre symbols,” an apparent reference to the folk St. Santa Muerte, or St. Death, a bony representation of the Grim Reaper whose popularity has soared in recent years.

The pope also touched upon migration, a topic he is expected to champion repeatedly here in Mexico. He urged Mexican bishops to work together with their counterparts in the U.S. to support Mexicans and others who migrate north, where he said “many find that integration into a supposedly ‘promised land’ is not always as easy as some believe.” The pope began and ended his talk by referring to the Virgin of Guadalupe, whose shrine he was scheduled to visit later in the day. He said the Virgin, the icon of Mexican nationality, was the “starting point of everything I will say to you.” He also had pointed words to Mexico’s bishops, telling them to act like servants of the people rather than what he called “princes.”

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