National/Chiapas: Visit of Pope Francis to Mexico and San Crsitobal de Las Casas

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Photo @ Alejandra Carrilo

A few days ago the bishops of the diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas published a letter about the visit of Pope Francis on February 15, including criticisms of the organization of the event: “it still pains us in our hearts that many of you, indigenous and mestizos, from near and far, could not enter the place where mass was celebrated, in spite of having arrived very early, having your entrance ticket, and having made a great effort to come. We do not know if it was only disorganization of the Presidential General Staff, on whom entrance depended, of if there were other perverse and exclusive intentions. What happened was unjust, inhumane, inexplicable, and very painful. This did not depend on the diocese, but on the federal civil authorities. We express our solidarity with those who couldn’t enter and make our word known to those responsible.”

On another note, it is important to mention that during the Pope’s mass in San Cristobal, which included some common rituals in the indigenous religious ceremonies and which had parts in regional languages such as Tsotsil, Tseltal and Ch’ol, religious celebration in indigenous languages was formalized by papal decree.

Another act of Francis, which had very little media coverage, was the visit to the tomb of Samuel Ruiz Garcia, who was bishop of San Cristobal for 40 years. “This visit, even if short and undervalued, is a very important sign to understand the type of church that Pope Francis wants to promote. With this visit, Francis is supporting the more than 40 years that Samuel had as bishop promoting an autochthonous church in Chiapas, a church where being Catholic does not imply ceasing to be indigenous. This church, more coherent with the message of the gospels than with the dogmas of Rome was criticized and attacked by his ‘brother’ bishops for a long time. With this visit Francis says Samuel and his episcopal practice were correct, five years after his death.”

The other notable locations that the Pope visited during his trip to Mexico from February 12 to 17 were the State of Mexico, with high levels of femicide; Ciudad Juarez, also known for its high levels of femicide and the exploitation of workers in sweatshops; and Michoacan, which stands out for violence related to organized crime.

For more information in Spanish:

Lamenta Arizmendi que 10 mil indígenas no hayan visto al Papa (La Jornada, 21 de febrero de 2016)

La iglesia autóctona y Francisco (La Jornada, 17 de febrero de 2016)

Honra el Papa a Samuel Ruiz, el obispo defensor de los pobres (Proceso, 15 de febrero de 2016)

Papa Francisco reivindica la defensa de los pueblos indígenas con su visita a Chiapas (Proceso, 15 de febrero de 2016)

‪VIDEO:  Pope visits Mexico’s indigenous Chiapas state (Al Jazeera, 15 de febero de 2016)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Entrega del 5to reconocimiento jTatik Samuel Jcanan Lum (1 de febrero de 2016)

Chiapas/Nacional: Varias actividades en el marco del cuarto aniversario luctuoso del obispo emérito de San Cristóbal de las Casas, Samuel Ruiz García (29 de enero de 2015)

Chiapas: Peregrinación del Pueblo Creyente en el marco del cuarto aniversario luctuoso de Don Samuel Ruiz (25 de enero de 2015)

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