Mexican people place hope in Pope Francis

Pope Francis arrives for Mass at a stadium in Morelia, Mexico, on 16 February.

Pope Francis arrives for Mass at a stadium in Morelia, Mexico, on 16 February.

MORELIA, MexicoPope Francis visited the city of Morelia, in central Mexico, on Tuesday — one of his final stops on his six-day apostolic journey to Mexico, which began Feb. 12. Lay Centre alumna Dr. Janette Ann Cortés Núñez was born in Morelia, where she currently resides and has her psychiatry practice. She shared with The Lay Centre the significance of the pope’s visit to her native city and country.

“The pope’s visit to Mexico has definitely changed people’s mood, as it is almost impossible to remain indifferent to it. It is an event that has coloured national public life and a topic that has come up in almost every conversation.

In a country with a population that is 83 percent Catholic, it can be said that the mood of most people has been one of a great celebration, joy and excitement.

In these days, people have moved massively throughout the country in order to attend the papal events: almost 900,000 tickets were printed for the official events, but millions of people have gone to the streets in order to greet the pope.

In Mexico City, it was estimated that 15 million people would participate in the visit in some way or another.

Pope Francis’ visit has been a feast for the faith and a sign of God’s predilection for the Mexican people.

Mexicans looked forward to the pope’s visit with tremendous hope, gratitude and expectation. Mexico is going through difficult times and people were eager to hear Pope Francis’ message.

There is a desire for peace in our country, the kind of peace that the pope has talked about: peace that comes from tenderness, dialogue, understanding and forgiveness.

Pope Francis had said he would come to Mexico as a pilgrim, as a missionary of mercy and peace, with his heart open and seeking to experience the particular richness of faith of the Mexican people.

Even though he warned us that he would not come as one of the Magi, laden with things, ideas or solutions to problems, his program for his visit communicated to us his message. It included: a visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and to a Children’s Hospital in Mexico City; Mass with indigenous people in the southern state of Chiapas, one of the poorest regions in the country; a visit to the city of Morelia in the state of Michoacán, a region suffering violence related to drug trafficking; and a prison visit in Ciudad Juárez Chihuahua, a borderline city in the north located just by the Río Bravo, which immigrants cross into the United States, and which suffers violence related to drugs, human trafficking and femicide. Pope Francis also invited parents of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa, who went missing months ago, to the farewell Mass that will be celebrated in the same city.

That said, there has been some skepticism about the scope of the pope’s visit, and of course a lot of speculation. It was said that the pope’s visit should challenge and question Catholics, that it should be an opportunity for an examination of conscience and spiritual renewal.

But, can the pope’s visit really make a difference? From my point of view, this is something that should be answered in the first-person singular. In other words, am I ready to become a real Catholic, in my private and public life? Can I not be afraid?

I personally feel a special connection with Pope Francis’ pontificate. He was elected when I had just arrived to Rome in order to study at a Jesuit university there.

Two years later, just when I had returned to Mexico, Pope Francis decided to visit Mexico, and even Morelia, the city where I was born and where I live.”

Dr. Janette Ann Cortés Núñez was a resident at The Lay Centre from 2013 to 2015, while studying for a diploma in spirituality at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

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