Pope Francis made a politically-charged stop in a Mass at the US-Mexico border on Wednesday to highlight what he called the “human tragedy” faced by migrants, reports Crux.
The Pope said the world can no longer deny the crisis generated by untold numbers of people who have crossed deserts, mountains, and inhospitable zones, by whatever means necessary, to flee violence and poverty.
“The human tragedy that is forced migration is a global phenomenon today,” Francis said during his homily at a Mass at Ciudad Juárez for migrants and victims of violence. “This crisis, which can be measured in numbers and statistics, we want to instead measure with names, stories, families.”
Those forced to migrate today, Francis said, are “brothers and sisters excluded as a result of poverty and violence, drug trafficking and criminal organisations.”
In a dramatic gesture before the Mass, Francis stopped at the border, walking up a ramp lined with yellow flowers to a specially built platform facing across the fence toward the United States.
Next to a giant crucifix, he made three signs of the cross and blessed hundreds of people gathered a few metres away in El Paso, on the US side. The three blessings were for the diocese of El Paso, one for Juárez, and one for Las Cruces, New Mexico, considered part of a common metropolitan area on the border.
Several US Bishops, including Boston Cardinal Seán O'Malley OFM Cap., Los Angeles Archbishop José Gómez , and El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz, concelebrated the Mass with Francis, symbolically answering the Pope’s call to make immigrants a priority.
Juárez is no longer the Mexican capital of crime, as it was known not long ago, but it still is the destination of choice for thousands of Mexicans and Central Americans who want to flee their countries for the United States.
Photo: Pope Francis prays at a cross on the border with El Paso, Texas, before celebrating Mass at the fairgrounds in Ciudad Juárez(CNS)
Migration, Francis’ cry: No more death! No more exploitation!” (Vatican Insider)