(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis concluded his Apostolic Visit to Mexico on Wednesday, thanking the Mexican people for their welcome. The Aeromexico Boeing that is bringing Pope Francis back to the Vatican at the end of his 12th Apostolic Journey abroad has taken off from the International Airport of Ciudad Juarez.


And it was the Mexican airline that flew him throughout his visit during which he travelled from Mexico City to Chiapas, Morelia, and Chihuahua.

As reported on the airline webpage, Pope Francis is an easy passenger: “Known for his humility and simple taste, very few special accommodations have been made to welcome the Pope onboard. Meal service has been arranged with suggestions from the Vatican, and the Boeing Dreamliner 787 has been equipped to host an onboard press conference. True to his reputation, the Pope has very humble needs for a head of state”.

Pope Francis is the third Pope to be flown by Mexico’s oldest airline, after Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

He arrived Rome in early afternoon Thursday, February 18. As is traditional, both before and after an apostolic trip, the Holy Father marked his return to Rome with prayers of thanks before the image of Mary, known as Salus Populi Romani. at St. Mary Major basilica. He was greeted and applauded by many faithful.



From my colleagues at CNA/EWTN News in Ciudad Juarez:

At the Mexico-U.S. border town of Ciudad Juarez, Pope Francis told hundreds of thousands of people present to beg God for the “gift of tears” over the suffering of others, especially forced migration.
Juarez-US Border

“Let us together ask our God for the gift of conversion, the gift of tears, let us ask him to give us open hearts,” he said during the Feb. 17 Mass at Benito Juárez stadium.

“No more death! No more exploitation!”

Pope Francis drew on the day’s reading from Jonah in which God calls upon the prophet to go and convert the Ninevites, whose city was “self-destructing as a result of oppression and dishonor, violence and injustice.”

“God sent him to testify to what was happening, he sent him to wake up a people intoxicated with themselves,” he said.

Jonah’s message to the Ninevites and God’s divine mercy saved the people from self-destruction, proving that “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.”

This account presents us with the very mystery of divine mercy, the pontiff said.

“Mercy always appeals to the latent and numbed goodness within each person…It seeks and invites us to conversion, it invites us to repentance; it invites us to see the damage being done at every level. Mercy always pierces evil in order to transform it,” he said.

Pope Francis traveled to Ciudad Juarez, the Mexican city that borders El Paso, Texas, to celebrate Mass during the final day of his Feb. 12-17 visit to Mexico. Hundreds of thousands of people attended the Mass, which included faithful on both sides of the border.

At this place, along with many other border cities between the neighboring countries where thousands of Mexicans and Central Americans try to enter the United States, the story of the Ninevites’ conversion “echoes forcefully among us today” and invites us to conversion, Pope Francis said.

“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,” he said.

“To weep over injustice, to cry over corruption, to cry over oppression,” the Pope said. “They are tears that can sensitize our gaze and our attitude hardened and especially dormant in the face of another’s suffering. They are the tears that can break us, capable of opening us to conversion.”

So often the humanitarian crisis of forced migration is measured with numbers and statistics, but in order to open our hearts to conversion, the Holy Father said, “we want to instead measure with names, stories, families.”

This journey, filled with “legal vacuums,” always “ensnares” and “destroys the poorest.”

The young are especially vulnerable in the flight of forced migration, he said calling them “cannon fodder,” as they are “persecuted and threatened when they try to flee the spiral of violence and the hell of drugs.”

He praised civil and religious organizations dedicated to “accompanying migrants” and “defending life” calling them “signs lighting the way and announcing salvation” just as Jonah did.

“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,” Pope Francis said.

He closed urging those present to ask for God’s mercy and grace, saying that it’s not too late for conversion.

“This time for conversion, this time for salvation, is the time for mercy,” he said. “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.”


Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Feb 17, 2016 / 03:29 pm (CNA).- Speaking to laborers in the Mexican City of Juarez on Wednesday, Pope Francis laid out several key areas of focus in fighting what he called “the cycle of drug trafficking and violence.”

“One of the greatest scourges for young people is the lack of opportunities for study and for sustainable and profitable work, which would permit them to work for the future,” the Pope said Feb. 17.

He said that this lack of opportunity frequently leads to situations of poverty, which then becomes “the best breeding ground for the young to fall into the cycle of drug trafficking and violence.”

This, the Pope said, “is a luxury which no one can afford; we cannot allow the present and future of Mexico to be alone and abandoned.”

Pope Francis met with members of Mexico’s workforce Feb. 17 in Ciudad Juarez on his last day in the country. Juarez borders the U.S. city of El Paso, Texas, and is a major destination for thousands of immigrants from Mexico and Central America who want to enter the United States.

The Pope’s visit to Juarez is the last in a series of daytrips he has made to some of the poorest and most violent areas of the country, including the state of Chiapas and the city of Morelia in Mexico’s Michoacán state.

His final stop in Juarez has special meaning not only because of the border Mass he will celebrate later in the afternoon, but also because of the sharp distinction between the economic state of the two countries on each side of the border.

Before speaking to the workers, Pope Francis listened to the testimonies of both a married couple who work, and high-level businessman.

Daisy Flores Gamez and her husband Jesus Varela Arturo Gurrola expressed their concern that economic problems are making it increasingly more difficult to balance family life and true care for one’s children. They also said that, in their opinion, the decline and conflict of values is due to the absence of parents in the home.

The Pope also heard from Juan Pablo Castanon, national president of the Business Coordinating Council, who shared his concerns on problems related to poverty and unemployment, and stressed the importance of developing technology, but not allowing it to take the place of people.

In his speech to the workers, Pope Francis said that “more needs to be done” in fostering a culture of dialogue, encounter and inclusion.
“Unfortunately, the times we live in have imposed the paradigm of economic utility as the starting point for personal relationships,” he said, noting that the current mentality pushes for “the greatest possible profits, immediately and at any cost.”

This mentality not only destroys the ethical dimension of business, but also ignores the fact that the best investment to be made is in people – both as individuals and as families, he said.

When the flow of people is put “at the service of the flow of capital,” the result is the exploitation of employees “as if they were objects to be used and discarded,” Francis said, quoting his environmental encyclical, Laudato Si.

God, he added, “will hold us accountable for the slaves of our day, and we must do everything to make sure that these situations do not happen again.”

Francis noted that some people object to the social doctrine of the Church, saying it reduces business to mere charity organizations or “philanthropic institutions.”

However, he stressed, the “only aspiration of the Church’s Social Doctrine is to guard over the integrity of people and social structures.”

“Every time that, for whatever reason, this integrity is threatened or reduced to a consumer good, the Church’s Social Doctrine will be a prophetic voice to protect us all from being lost in the seductive sea of ambition,” he said.

Pope Francis warned that each time a person’s integrity is violated, it begins a process of declination for society as a whole. Therefore, every sector of society is obliged look out for the good of everyone.

“We are all in the same boat. We all have to struggle to make sure that work is a humanizing moment which looks to the future,” he said, and asked those present what kind of world and what kind of Mexico they want to leave for their children.

“Do you want to leave them the memory of exploitation, of insufficient pay, of workplace harassment? Or do you want to leave them a culture which recalls dignified work, a proper roof, and land to be worked?”

He also asked whether they would leave behind air “tainted by corruption, violence, insecurity and suspicion, or, on the contrary, an air capable of generating alternatives, renewal and change?”

Francis acknowledged that the issues he raised are not easy to face, but said that leaving the future in the hands of corruption, brutality and inequity would be worse.

Even though it’s difficult to bring different sides together to negotiate, more harm is done by refusing to negotiate, the Pope said. He added that while getting along can be hard in an increasingly competitive world, it would be worse if society allows this competition to destroy people.

“Profit and capital are not a good over and above the human person; they are at the service of the common good,” he said. When the common good is used only to serve profit and capital, “the only thing gained is known as exclusion.”

Francis closed his speech by inviting the citizens of Mexico to build a country “that your children deserve; a Mexico where no one is first, second or fourth; a Mexico where each sees in the other the dignity of a child of God.”