Vatican City, 14 February 2016 (VIS) - "Today I come as a missionary of mercy and of peace but also as a son who wishes to pay homage to his mother, the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe, and place himself under her watchful care. Endeavouring to be a good son, following in our mother’s footsteps, I wish in turn to pay my respects to this people and to this land which is so rich in culture, history, and diversity", said Pope Francis in his first discourse on Mexican soil, before the authorities and representatives of civil society gathered in the Mexican Palacio Nacional. He was received by President Enrique Pena Nieto, with whom he had spoken previously, presenting him the gift of a mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe produced by the Vatican Mosaic Studio.
"Mexico is a great country", exclaimed the Holy Father. "It is blessed with abundant natural resources and with an enormous biodiversity that extends across its vast territory. Its privileged geographical position makes it a reference point for America; and its indigenous, mestizo and criollo cultures endow it with its own identity that facilitates a cultural richness not always easy to find and, particularly, to value. The ancestral wisdom shown by your multiculturalism is, by far, one of your greatest biographical resources. It is an identity that learned gradually how to shape itself amid diversity and that now constitutes, without any doubt, a rich patrimony to be valued, encouraged and protected".
However, the Pope observed that "Mexico’s principal richness today has a young face", as young people constitute over half the population. "This makes it possible to contemplate and plan for a future, for a tomorrow of hope and future prospects. A people with a youthful population is a people able to renew and transform itself; it is an invitation to look to the future with hope and, in turn, it challenges us in a positive way here and now. This reality inevitably leads us to think about one’s own responsibilities when it comes to constructing the kind of Mexico we want, the Mexico that we want to pass on to coming generations. It also leads us to the realisation that a hope-filled future is forged in a present made up of men and women who are upright, honest, and capable of working for the common good, the 'common good' which in this twenty-first century is not in such great demand. Experience teaches us that each time we seek the path of privileges or benefits for a few to the detriment of the good of all, sooner or later the life of society becomes a fertile soil for corruption, drug trade, exclusion of different cultures, violence and also human trafficking, kidnapping and death, bringing suffering and slowing down development".
The Holy Father emphasised that the Mexican people "anchors its hope in an identity which has been shaped in the trying and difficult moments of its history. It was forged by the wonderful witness of citizens who understood that, in order to overcome situations born of the obstinacy of individualism, it was necessary to have agreement between the political, social and financial institutions, and of all men and women committed to the common good and the promotion of the dignity of the human person. An ancestral culture together with encouraging human resources such as yours, should be a stimulus to find new forms of dialogue, negotiation, and bridges that can lead us on the way of committed solidarity. Starting with those who call themselves Christians, it is a commitment to which all of us must give of ourselves, for the construction of a 'political life on a truly human basis', and a society in which no one feels a victim of the culture of waste".
"Leaders of social, cultural and political life have the particular duty to offer all citizens the opportunity to be worthy contributors of their own future, within their families and in all areas where human social interaction takes place. In this way they help citizens to have real access to the material and spiritual goods which are indispensable: adequate housing, dignified employment, food, true justice, effective security, a healthy and peaceful environment. This is not just a question of laws which need to be updated and improved – something always necessary – but rather a need for urgent formation of the personal responsibility of each individual, with full respect for others as men and women jointly responsible in promoting the advancement of the nation. It is a task which involves all Mexicans in different spheres, public or private, collective or individual".
The Pope assured President Nieto that in this effort, the Government of Mexico "can count on the cooperation of the Catholic Church, which has accompanied the life of this nation and which renews its commitment and willingness to serve the great causes of mankind: the building of the civilisation of love".
"I am ready to travel around this beautiful and wide country as a missionary and as a pilgrim who wishes to renew with all of you the experience of mercy as a new horizon of opportunity which inevitably brings justice and peace. I also entrust myself to the gaze of Mary, the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe, I ask her to watch over me, so that by her intercession the merciful Father may grant that these days and the future of this land be an opportunity for encounter, unity and peace. Thank you".