Pope in Mexico: Conversion, no more death, no more exploitation for those who try to emigrate

Francis celebrates the last Mass of the trip in Ciudad Juárez, a few meters from the border with the US. Faithful on both sides of the wire mesh that divides the two countries. " Each step, a journey laden with grave injustices: the enslaved, the imprisoned and extorted; so many of these brothers and sisters of ours are the consequence of a trade in human beings".

Ciudad Juárez (AsiaNews) – Conversion, no more death, no more exploitation for those who try to emigrate. Hundreds of thousands of people, from both sides of the wire mesh that divides Mexico and the United States gathered to hear the Pope’s appeal. In Ciudad Juarez, the border town sadly linked to drug trafficking, violence and exploitation of those who want to illegally cross the border to reach their "American dream" Francis celebrated the last Mass of his trip to Mexico, from where he left for Rome , where he is due to arrive at 14:45 local time.

The plight of migrants, was at the heart of the Pope's thoughts, this time was evoked not only in his new appeal against exploitation, but also in gestures: shortly before the celebration, he went towards the large wooden cross overlooking the border and he blessed the shoes of the dead migrants who failed to cross the border, along which he passed in the popemobile. And at the end of the ceremony he greeted the approximately 50 thousand people who were "on the other side", in El Paso Texas.

His homily was inspired by the biblical story of "the great city of Nineveh, [which] was self-destructing as a result of oppression and dishonour, violence and injustice", to which God sends, through Jonah, the invitation to conversion . " God sent him to testify to what was happening, he sent him to wake up a people intoxicated with themselves". " The king listened to Jonah, the inhabitants of the city responded and penance was decreed.  God’s mercy has entered the heart, revealing and showing wherein our certainty and hope lie: there is always the possibility of change, we still have time to transform what is destroying us as a people, what is demeaning our humanity.  Mercy encourages us to look to the present, and to trust what is healthy and good beating in every heart.  God’s mercy is our shield and our strength".

" This word echoes forcefully today among us; this word is the voice crying out in the wilderness, inviting us to conversion.  In this Year of Mercy, with you here, I beg for God’s mercy; with you I wish to plead for the gift of tears, the gift of conversion". "Let us together ask our God for the gift of conversion, the gift of tears, let us ask him to give us open hearts like the Ninevites, open to his call heard in the suffering faces of countless men and women.  No more death!  No more exploitation!  There is still time to change, there is still a way out and a chance, time to implore the mercy of God".

"Here in Ciudad Juárez, as in other border areas - he continued - there are thousands of immigrants from Central America and other countries, not forgetting the many Mexicans who also seek to pass over “to the other side”.  Each step, a journey laden with grave injustices: the enslaved, the imprisoned and extorted; so many of these brothers and sisters of ours are the consequence of a trade in human beings. ".

" We cannot deny the humanitarian crisis which in recent years has meant migration for thousands of people, whether by train or highway or on foot, crossing hundreds of kilometres through mountains, deserts and inhospitable zones.  The human tragedy that is forced migration is a global phenomenon today.  This crisis which can be measured in numbers and statistics, we want instead to measure with names, stories, families.  They are the brothers and sisters of those expelled by poverty and violence, by drug trafficking and criminal organizations.  Being faced with so many legal vacuums, they get caught up in a web that ensnares and always destroys the poorest.  Not only do they suffer poverty but they must also endure these forms of violence.  Injustice is radicalized in the young; they are “cannon fodder”, persecuted and threatened when they try to flee the spiral of violence and the hell of drugs, not to mention the tragic predicament of the many women whose lives have been unjustly taken".

"This time for conversion, this time for salvation, is the time for mercy.  And so, let us say together in response to the suffering on so many faces: In your compassion and mercy, Lord, have pity on us … cleanse us from our sins and create in us a pure heart, a new spirit". A spirit that the Pope sees in "countless civil organizations working to support the rights of migrants.  I know too of the committed work of so many men and women religious, priests and lay people in accompanying migrants and in defending life.  They are on the front lines, often risking their own lives.  By their very lives they are prophets of mercy; they are the beating heart and the accompanying feet of the Church that opens its arms and sustains".

And at the end of the homily, the Pope greeted the faithful at the US border, in El Paso, including many in the Sun Bowl Stadium. "With the help of technology - his words - we can pray, sing and celebrate the merciful love that God gives us, and that no border can prevent us from sharing. Thank you brothers and sisters at El Paso of making us feel like one family and one, same, Christian community".

"Mexico is a surprise," his final salute. " The night can seem vast and very dark, but in these days I have been able to observe that in this people there are many lights who proclaim hope; I have been able to see in many of their testimonies, in many of their faces, the presence of God who carries on walking in this land, guiding you, sustaining hope; many men and women, with their everyday efforts, make it possible for this Mexican society not to be left in darkness.  They are tomorrow’s prophets, they are the sign of a new dawn". And, as on arrival, his thoughts went to the Virgin of Guadalupe. "May Mary, Mother of Guadalupe, continue to visit you, continue to walk on your lands, helping you to be missionaries and witnesses of mercy and reconciliation".