Pope to Indigenous, ¨Forgive Us, Forgive Us”
La Jornada: Bernardo Barranco V.
Your people have been misunderstood and excluded from society, the Pope said to the indigenous of Chiapas. Before a breathtaking scene, full of the colour of the indigenous peoples, the Pope issued a profound message and had at the same time, the sensitivity to hear his words in different languages. Francisco spent time with indigenous and ordinary people. There were touching moments.
For the first time on this tour, the powerful and wealthy did not capture the privileged places to see the Pope. Francis spoke to the poor and the most abused groups in our country. Bergoglio ate with representatives of various indigenous groups and then visited and prayed at the tomb of Samuel Ruiz, "Tatic" ["Papa" in Mayan tongues], an important gesture in the face of government pressure that he not carry out the act. Therefore, Francis chose to do it in a discreet and sober way. The Pope stopped in front of Ruiz’s tomb, the defender of the rights of indigenous, and placed some flowers.
The mere fact of having been there has far-reaching implications, both for the political culture and the religious, because it had to do with a religious player so reviled by politicians, the governments of Salinas and Zedillo, as well as by the Catholic hierarchy, headed by cardinals Juan Sandoval [Cardinal and retired Archbishop of Guadalajara] and Norberto Rivera [Cardinal and Archbishop of Mexico City]. How can one forget the acid accusations made by media analysts who today fill their mouths with praise for "Tatic". Like Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador [assassinated in 1980, beatified by Pope Francis in 2015], five years after his death, Samuel Ruiz is awaiting a profound redefinition.
In this Jan. 16, 2016 photo, a Tzotzil Indian lay woman distributes Holy Communion during a Catholic Mass in honor of the Christ of Esquipulas in Chajtoj, Chiapas state, Mexico. Pope Francis travels to Mexico Feb. 12-18, that includes a one-day visit to Chiapas, where he will celebrate Mass and lunch with indigenous people. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
In San Cristobal, Francisco gave a profound, critical homily in a gentle manner. The beginning could not have been more symbolic, with the Exodus, the classic text of liberation theology and widely used by Samuel Ruiz. He says:
"A people who had experienced the slavery and despotism of Pharaoh, who had experienced suffering and abuse, until God says ‘enough’ until God says ‘no more!’ ‘I have seen the affliction, I heard the cry, I’ve known your anguish’ (Ex 3: 9). And that the face of our God is manifested, the Father’s face that suffers seeing the pain, abuse, inequality in the lives of his children; and his word, his law, became a symbol of freedom. "
The exodus as an indignant intervention by God in search of the freedom and dignity of indigenous peoples. In this search for the indigenous dawn, the Pope cites the Popol Vuh:
"the desire to taste the promised land, where oppression, abuse, devaluation is overcome by brotherhood, injustice is defeated by solidarity and violence is silenced by peace."
Francisco denounces that, in many ways, we have tried to silence and shut down this indigenous longing, numb the soul "with the insinuation that nothing can change or that they are impossible dreams … The violence in the human heart, wounded by sin, is also manifested in the warning signs of disease in the ground, the water, the air and living things. Therefore, among the most neglected and abused poor is our oppressed and devastated earth, ‘groaning in travail’ (Rm 8, 22)."
Francis reproaches the contempt that considers their indigenous values, cultures and traditions as inferior. Some, dazed by power, money and the laws of the market, have been stripped of their land or have performed actions which have contaminated it. The Pope exclaims:
"How sad! How well we would all do to do some soul searching and learn to say, ‘Pardon, pardon, brothers!’ Today’s world, stripped by the culture of the disposable, needs you."
It was an emotional ceremony. Attendees chanted when the pope made social references such as "the people suffer" or his testimonies to human solidarity.
…There was nothing new in Francis’ preaching on the family. The event started with concrete cases of families in various conditions: the solidarity of parents with a teenager who has disabilities, divorced people who seek to remarry, a single mother who had abortions and an elderly couple celebrating 50 years of marriage. Francisco encourages each case in a colloquial manner, making jokes and repeating his teachings about the threats to the family and his opening regarding the divorced and remarried, who hugged and praised his commitment.
The silences were remarkable: the Pope did not address the issue of women or abortion, much less the new gay couples. The Mexican conservative Catholic right has to be disappointed by the voluntarist message and, above all, by the omission of condemnations that, until recently, were common in Catholic speeches.
The social pitch of the visit has gone up. Many criticisms of an aggrieved society remain. Will Francisco respond to those expectations?
Translated by Reed Brundage