During an interview on his upcoming visit to Mexico next week, scheduled Feb. 12-18, at the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse, Pope Francis said, “I am going to Mexico not as a wise man bearing things, messages, ideas or solutions to problems,” he responded, but as a pilgrim in search of something from the Mexican people.
The Argentine pontiff said he wanted to be an “instrument of peace” together with all the Mexican people.
“The Mexico of violence, of corruption, of drug trafficking is not the Mexico our Mother of Guadelupe (Mexico’s patron saint) wants, said Pope Francis, adding he was going to Mexico “to pray with you so that the problems of violence and corruption are solved”.
“I am not going to pass around the collection basket so don’t worry about that,” the Pope said. “But I will seek the wealth of faith that you have; I want to come in contact with that wealth of faith.”
Their wealth, he said, comes from the fact that they are not an orphaned people but one with a mother who “forged hope” in them.
Recalling a joke from some Mexican man that said, “I am an atheist, but I am Guadalupan.’ It makes sense,” he said, because it reflects the feeling of “a people who does not want to be orphaned. There, perhaps, is the great wealth that I will seek. I will go as a pilgrim.”
The Pope said when he thinks of Our Lady of Guadalupe, what comes to his mind is “safety and tenderness.” He recalled his visits to Mexico in 1970 and 1998, saying that someone wanted to explain the symbolic image to him, but he turned down the offer and preferred to sit in silence before the image.
“How many times I have been fearful of a problem or that something bad has happened and I don’t know how to react and I pray to her. I like to repeat to myself, ‘Do not be afraid; Am I not here, I, who am your mother?’” The words are those Mary said to Juan Diego when she appeared to him.
Pope Francis asked the people of Mexico for some time alone during his visit to pray before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Pope Francis had said last year that he would venerate the shrine on Feb. 13, 2016, where he will prays and hopes that Christian communities “may become oases and rivers of mercy.”
He urged the Mexicans to pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe, to aid them in achieving peace and undermine violence which continues to plague thousands in the country.
In the course of the interview, several men and women asked the Pope to help bring to justice the criminals who exploit desperate people, to bring an end to corruption, drugs, human trafficking, and to help protect and assist victims of trafficking and smuggled migrants, many of whom endure unimaginable hardships in their bid for a better life.
Replying to their appeal, the Pope said, “the Mexico of corruption, the Mexico of drug trafficking, the Mexico of cartels is not the Mexico our mother wants, he added that people “must fight for peace, but not with war.”
“I would like to be an instrument of peace in Mexico, but only with you all,” he said. “It’s obvious that I can’t do it alone – I would be crazy if I said that (I could) – but together with you all, (I visit) as an instrument of peace.”
Pope Francis’ Feb visit to Mexico will take him to some of the most violent and poverty-stricken parts of Mexico.