Francis arrived in Mexico Friday after a historic meeting with his counterpart Patriarch Kirill from the Russian Orthodox Church in Havana, Cuba. The meeting between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox leaders is the first of its kind since the Great Schism, a split between the Eastern and Western churches in 1054.
The pope’s trip comes at a time of great uncertainty within Mexican law enforcement as notorious Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera was recaptured by authorities in January after escaping in July 2015. In his mass — in the dangerous city of Ecatepec — Francis told those gathered to see him, “You cannot dialogue with the devil because he will always win.”
Francis ended his mass wishing many things for Mexico with the following prayer, “where there will be no need to emigrate in order to dream, no need to be exploited in order to work, no need to make the despair and poverty of many the opportunism of a few, a land that will not have to mourn men and women, young people and children who are destroyed at the hands of the dealers of death.”
Ecatepec is known for its affinity for Santa Muerte, a cult that lets its followers pray for the death of others. The city has a large statute dedicated to the controversial figure depicted as something of a dark saint fulfilling an ugly but necessary role.
Many Mexicans who revere it also consider themselves to be good Catholics. This figure predates the arrival of Catholicism to Mexico and has seen a rise in popularity as security in Mexico deteriorated.
In another mass Feb. 13 at Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral, the pope referred to Saint Death ,which the Vatican rejects as a Catholic symbol, by stating, “I am particularly concerned about those many persons who, seduced by the empty power of the world, praise illusions and embrace their macabre symbols to commercialize death in exchange for money which, in the end, ‘moth and rust consume.’”
Since former Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared war on Mexican cartels in 2006 and through the presidency of incumbent Enrique Peña Nieto, “100,000 people have been killed and 27,000 have disappeared” as a result of cartel violence.
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