What Issues Await Pope Francis During His Visit to Mexico?

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The Catholic Church is extremely important in Mexico. According the Pew Research Center, Mexico has the highest proportion of Catholics in Latin America at 81%. They also hold Pope Francis in high regard. But Mexico is also a country that offers culture, history, and has issues that many want the Pope to raise during his visit.

Mexican Activists Want The Pope to Speak  About These Issues:

1. Femicide

Some of the Mexican states Pope Francis is visiting also have high femicide rates: Chiapas, Michoacán, the state of Mexico, and Chihuahua. The Pope will pay a special visit to Ciudad Juárez, once considered the epicenter of femicides and other forms of violence.

Mexican law states that a woman must have been murdered because of her gender in order for her death to be labeled a femicide. As such, the law states a woman’s body must have been dumped in a public area, that she was isolated from others before death, or that the body displayed signs of sexual abuse.

About 40% of the femicides filed in the state of Mexico have not resulted in charges, according to the National Citizen’s Observatory on Femicide (OCNF). The OCNF also states an average of seven women are murdered daily in Mexico.

2. Victims of Sexual Abuse

Marcial Maciel, head of the Legionaries of Christ, was a serial sexual abuser of members of the Mexican Catholic Church, and was close with Pope John Paul II. Many who have suffered sexual abuse from him want a meeting with the Pope during his week-long tour of the country.

In 2012 when Pope Benedict was the acting Pope, victims of Maciel requested a meeting with him and were denied. It was eventually found that 30 of the priests of the Legionaries of Christ had abused church members during their tenure, and they were granted plenary indulgence.

3. Undocumented Immigrants

With roughly 10% of Mexicans living in the United States, the Pope is going to hit two birds with one stone by holding an open-door mass accessible to Mexicans on both sides of the US-Mexico border.

Electoral season, raids, and disapproval over how President Obama has handled deportations have made this stop especially poignant given the political climate around immigration. The Pope plans to pray at the Rio Grande for the souls of those who have perished while crossing the border to the US. The mass will also be live streamed for viewership at the Sun Bowl Stadium, and the Pope is expected to bless migrants and refugees with the aid of immigration offices who will treat them as “Francis VIPs.”

4. Indigenous Rights

For all of Mexico’s history, the Catholic Church has not allowed Mass to be held in indigenous language. One of Pope Francis’ actions will be to finally allow this. Even though this will probably be welcome within indigenous devotees to the church, others want Pope Francis to apologize for how the Catholic Church facilitated Spanish colonization, mass genocide of indigenous groups, and centuries of suffering among these ethnic groups.

In fact, the Supreme Indigenous Council of Michoacan states that the Catholic Church was a vital part of the 24 million deaths of indigenous peoples, causing 95% of the indigenous population to die after Christopher Columbus and Hernan Cortez arrived in the Americas.

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