At bicentennial, Pope urges Mexicans to focus on the present, the future

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Pope Francis called on Mexicans to focus on the present and look to the future rather than dwell on the past as the country celebrates the bicentennial of its independence.

In a letter to Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera López de Monterrey, president of the Mexican Episcopal Conference, the Pope said: “The anniversary you are celebrating invites not only to look to the past to strengthen your roots, but also to continue to live in the present and build a future with hope and joy, reaffirming the values ​​that have been built and that identify you as people … such as independence, unity and religion. “

“Strengthening the roots,” the Pope said, involved reassessing the past.

But he urged Mexicans to watch the shockingly violent present, in which drug cartels and organized crime – full of people practicing popular piety and seeing themselves as true Catholics – wage wars for territory, kill and disappear. innocent Mexicans and force thousands to flee their homes.

“The actions of more recent times cannot be ignored, actions against the Christian religious sentiment of the great part of the Mexican people, causing deep suffering,” wrote Pope Francis.

“But we cannot evoke the pains of the past to stop there, rather to learn from them … well above vested interests, tensions and conflicts.”

Mexico declared its independence from Spain on September 16, 1810, in a movement initiated by Father Miguel Hidalgo Costilla. Independence was fully achieved on September 27, 1821, after a decade of conflict.

The roles of Father Hidalgo Costilla and another independence hero, Father José María Morelos – national heroes, whose images adorn banknotes and the names of streets and cities in Mexico – are complicated for the Catholic Church because it was generally believed that clergymen were excommunicated. A 2007 report by historian Father Gustavo Watson revealed that the two men had died as Catholic priests.

Father Hidalgo Costilla rallied people behind images of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the national patron saint, Pope Francis wrote.

“María de Guadalupe, the Virgin Morenita, addressing herself in a particular way to the smallest and most needy, has favored fraternity and freedom, reconciliation and inculturation of the Christian message, not only in Mexico but in all the Americas “he writes. “May she continue to be for all of you the sure guide that leads you to the communion and the fullness of her Son.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri traveled to Mexico to represent Pope Francis for the bicentenary and celebrated Mass on September 26 at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

“May the bicentenary of the independence of Mexico be under your gaze, O Virgin of Guadalupe”, he said in his homily, “so that no man or nation treads on the rights of others, in particular the poor and the oppressed “.

Cardinal Sandri ended his homily by referring to the Cristero rebellion of the 1920s, a time of Catholic persecution, as parishes were closed and Catholic rebels took up arms against an anticlerical government. The Mexican state and the Catholic Church remained officially separate until Mexico and the Vatican established relations in 1992.

“And no nation confuses the idea of ​​a presumed human freedom as a means of freeing oneself from the gentle presence of God and his proclamation in society,” said the cardinal, “as Saint Joselito taught us. Sánchez del Río and the Cristero martyrs, with your name on their lips, Our Lady of Guadalupe. “


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