Francis in Mexico: A Hell without Demons – by Álvaro Delgado (Proceso)

~ This column was originally published by Proceso on February 15, 2016 ~
The Pope's arrival to San Cristóbal. Photo: Eduardo Miranda

The Pope’s arrival to San Cristóbal. Photo: Eduardo Miranda

MEXICO CITY.- Jorge Bergoglio has been, during the first three days of his visit to Mexico, a lukewarm Pope.

Captured by the government of Enrique Peña Nieto, prisoner to a rigorous script and frivolous transmission of his activities by Televisa and TV Azteca, their transmissions replete with preachers, Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, has filled his speeches with generalities and commonalities that contrast sharply with his rebellious reputation.

Save for chiding the Church hierarchy in Mexico, who are submerged in palace intrigues and corrupted by links with political, economic, and criminal power, the Pope has sweetened his pronouncements, and even when he suggested, during a mass with Peña and the cynical political class, that inequality was the root of corruption, violence, and death, he did so in a manner so general that it would apply to any country in the world.

And today, in San Cristóbal de las Casas, once again he did not go beyond platitudes: He called for asking forgiveness from the indigenous for their exclusion from society.

Obvious. If you are in hell, of course you have to talk about the heat, but you have to also mention the demons. If you are in a dump, you cannot overlook the smell, but it is more notable to say who put the trash there.

It is clear: In generalizing, you absolve.”

Deaf and cynical, the members of the PRI, PAN, PRD, and PVEM applauded Francis at the national palace, they posed with Bergoglio and the governors Claudia Pavlovich and Manuel Velasco even kissed the papal ring, submitting constitutional power to religious authority.

In the first three days of his visit, Bergoglio confirmed the predictions of Humberto Roque Villanueva, the Subsecretary of Religious Affairs in the Ministry of Government, who on the eve of the visit suggested that the Pope would not speak in detail about violence, insecurity, poverty, corruption, or any of the other grave issues in Mexico.

“I have understood, from conversations we have had with the Catholic Church, that the Pope will speak of these things generally, but will not address them particularly. I have the impression that these will be general reflections, obviously applicable to Mexico, but not as conclusive as some are expecting.”

Roque, who as a member of Congress from the PRI oversaw the increase of the IVA (value-added tax) from 10% to 15%, discarded the possibility that the Pope would meet with the family members of the missing students from Ayotzinapa who—possibly—could attend his public acts as spectators but would not be allowed to greet him:

“It has been thought that they would have arranged for a private meeting. As far as I know, this will not happen. What will happen is that they will be present at some of the events where the Pope will give mass. What I do not know is if in his masses he will refer to them in particular.”

This meeting with family members of the some 27 million who have disappeared in the country, would be the definition of Bergoglio’s personality, and it would be the mark of his visit to Mexico. Is avoiding that meeting the product of a pact with Peña? Perhaps. The Church has been doing politics for 2,000 years.

Last week Proceso published the news that Claudia Ruiz Massieu, the foreign minister, unexpectedly traveled to Rome on January 22, along with Mariano Palacios Alcocer, the Mexican embassador to the Holy See, to meet privately with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State of the Vatican, and with Paul Richard Gallagher, the secretary of state relations.

In that meeting, according to Proceso, Ruiz Massieu tried to persuade Cardinal Parolin that the pope should not meet with the parents of the Ayotzinapa students, since some of the missing might have been involved in the trafficking of drugs to the United States.

The annoyance of Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, when asked if Bergoglio would meet with Ayotzinapa family members, is striking. His flat rejection was explained by the fact that in Ciudad Juárez the Pope would meet with victims of violence, “without making a distinction on whether some suffer more or others suffer less.”

Scornfully, he slammed the door on the family members of the 43: “At the mass in Ciudad Juárez, all are welcome. Those who do not come are free to do so.”

We all know it: The Church has its own agenda and interests, and Mexicans should bet more on ourselves than on foreign dignitaries, and a Pope—famed for his rebelliousness—who fails to talk about pederasty, women, the use of condoms, and non-traditional romantic partnerships, does not work miracles…

Álvaro Delgado writes for Proceso. He recently received death threats. This essay was originally published by Proceso under the title “Francisco en México: un infierno sin demonios” and is available at:

Translation by Michael Lettieri, Trans-Border Institute

About Michael Lettieri

Program Officer at the Trans-Border Institute

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