Pope condemns drug trade's 'dealers of death' in Mexico

ECATEPEC, Mexico -- Pope Francis condemned the drug trade's "dealers of death" and urged Mexicans to shun the devil's lust for money as he led a huge open-air Mass for more than 300,000 people Sunday in this violence-riddled city.

See Full Article

"Let us get it into our heads: With the devil, there is no dialogue," the pope said at the biggest scheduled event of his five-day visit to Mexico.

Francis brought a message of encouragement on the second full day of his trip to residents of Ecatepec, a poverty-stricken Mexico City suburb of some 1.6 million people where drug violence, kidnappings and gangland-style killings, particularly of women, are a fact of life.

"He's coming to Ecatepec because we need him here," said Ignacia Godinez, a 56-year-old homemaker. "Kidnappings, robberies and drugs have all increased, and he is bringing comfort. His message will reach those who need it so that people know we, the good people, outnumber the bad."

In a clear reference to the drug lords who hold sway in the city's sprawling expanses of cinderblock slums, Francis focused his homily on the danger posed by the devil.

"Only the power of the word of God can defeat him," the pope said.

In a final prayer, he urged Mexicans to make their country into a land of opportunity "where there will be no need to emigrate in order to dream, no need to be exploited in order to work, no need to make the despair and poverty of many the opportunism of a few, a land that will not have to mourn men and women, young people and children who are destroyed at the hands of the dealers of death."

The faithful lined the pope's motorcade route to the huge field where the Mass took place, tossing flower petals as he passed by and cheering with pom-poms in the yellow and white of the Vatican flag.

Vendors sold T-shirts, plates with Francis' image on them, pins, bandanas and cardboard-cutout figures of the pope.

An estimated 100,000 people have been killed and 27,000 have disappeared in gangland violence since President Enrique Pena Nieto's predecessor launched an offensive against drug cartels shortly after taking office in late 2006.

At least 1,554 women have vanished in Mexico State since 2005, according to the National Observatory on Femicide, and last year the government issued an alert over the killings of women in Ecatepec and other parts of the state.

Nevertheless, women who came to see Francis said they felt safe, thanks in part to the huge security presence. The government assigned more than 10,000 police, soldiers and members of the presidential guard to protect the motorcade and Mass.

"I'm protected by my faith and the joy of seeing the pope up close," said Graciela Elizalde, 35, who arrived at the field Saturday evening and spent the night on the street, "and the thugs know that we the good people have come out to take the streets."

She added: "The pope is not going to change things, but at least he will touch the hearts of those who do harm and are trying to destroy the country. He is the 'messenger of peace' because that's exactly what Mexico needs, not just Ecatepec."

However, Maria de la Luz Estrada, co-ordinator of the National Observatory on Femicide, said she was disappointed that Francis didn't directly condemn violence against women or offer support to families of victims, saying that at the very least he could have made reference to discrimination against women.

"I still feel that he owes us these words," she said.

Conchita Tellez, 65, from the border city of Mexicali, held out hope that Francis can help ease the troubled soul of the country.

"The pope comes to Mexico at a very ugly moment," Tellez said, "and he comes to pray for us and for all those who lost hope and have submerged the country in blood and violence."

Francis' grueling schedule seemed to be taking a toll on him on Saturday, when the 79-year-old pontiff appeared to nod off at an evening Mass and also lost his balance and fell into a chair set up for him. He appeared much livelier Sunday, beaming and waving at the crowds along his route.

Francis' schedule Sunday included three popemobile motorcades and a visit to a pediatric hospital.

"The poor and the working people are here, and this pope prefers to talk to the humble," 62-year-old Petra Arqueta said.

Associated Press writers Peter Orsi and Maria Verza in Mexico City contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Fellony the felon hit with new felony charges

    World News Toronto Sun
    Fellony the serial felon has been hit with new felony charges, according to reports. Fellony Hudson, 22, of Salem, Ore., has been charged with felony kidnapping, felony eluding, felony possession of a stolen vehicle and various other misdemeanors after cops chased the ironically-named man across state lines last week. Source
  • Trump lashes out at fellow Republicans in Twitter tirade

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is expressing his frustration with fellow Republicans, saying they “do very little to protect their President.” In one of several tweets issued Sunday afternoon and evening, Trump said the lack of support happens even with “some that were carried over the line on my back. Source
  • Chainsaw-wielding man wounds five in Switzerland

    World News Toronto Sun
    BERLIN — An unkempt man armed with a chainsaw wounded five people Monday at an office building in the northern Swiss city of Schaffhausen and then fled, police said. A manhunt was on for him. Police were alerted to the attack at 10:39 a.m. Source
  • Pregnant woman stabbed multiple times at her Montreal home

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL - Police say a 33-year-old pregnant woman was stabbed several times early Monday morning in her home in the city's north end. Authorities say the victim was attacked by her partner, who fled the scene when police arrived. Source
  • At least 12 dead in car bombing in eastern Pakistan

    World News CBC News
    Pakistani officials say a car bomb has killed 12 people and wounded 25 in the eastern city of Lahore. A statement from Malik Mohammad Ahmed, a spokesman for government of the eastern Punjab province, said the car bomb struck an old vegetable market in the neighbourhood of Kot Lakhpat on Lahore's outskirts on Monday. Source
  • Police-reported pot offences decline in 2016: StatsCan

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- The number of cannabis-related offences reported to police was down again last year, for the fifth time in a row. Statistics Canada says there were about 55,000 offences related to marijuana reported to police in 2016, which is about 6,000 fewer than reported the year before, despite the fact that overall, the percentage of Canadians who consume the drug has gone up over time. Source
  • Jared Kushner says he has ‘nothing to hide’ on Russia

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner denied Monday that he colluded with Russians in the course of President Donald Trump’s successful White House bid, declaring in a statement ahead of interviews with congressional committees that he has “nothing to hide. Source
  • Montreal newborn fights for life after mom repeatedly stabbed

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A newborn infant is fighting for its life in a Montreal hospital Monday morning after being delivered by caesarian section after its 33-year-old mother was repeatedly stabbed. Police say that while the mother's condition has stabilized, the child is in critical condition. Source
  • Trump has no immediate plans to fill vacant White House job of 'first pet'

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Politically ambitious pups and kittens: Put your resumes aside. The job of first pet -- an enviable White House gig with luxurious live-in privileges, after-hours access to the president and guaranteed positive press coverage -- is not currently available. Source
  • B.C. teen completes 12 hour swim across English Channel for charity

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    KELOWNA, B.C. — While many teens spend summers relaxing, a 17-year-old from Kelowna, B.C., has been pushing her body and mind to the limits and raising thousands of dollars for charity in the process. Emily Epp swam across the English Channel earlier this month in a gruelling trek that took nearly 12 hours to complete. Source