Between February 12 and 18, Pope Francis visited Mexico for the first time during his time as pope. The trip followed in the footsteps of his predecessors, Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, both of whom also visited Mexico during their tenures. While most of the trip was spent in Mexico City, Pope Francis also visited Ecatepec, an extremely poor suburb of Mexico City, as well as the Mexican border to celebrate Mass and speak about immigration.
During his time in Mexico City, Pope Francis met with high level state officials, including President Enrique Peña Nieto, as well as other Mexican diplomats. He also spent time meeting with the Bishops of Mexico City and saying Masses at various churches throughout the city. Pope Francis met and ministered to children in Mexico City, visiting both orphanages and hospitals, and encouraging the children to not fall victim to the drug trade in Mexico.
Despite security concerns, Pope Francis took a day off from ministering to the people of Mexico City to visit Ecatepec, a village that has become notorious for its lawlessness and poverty. While there he spoke to a crowd of 350,000 people on the season of Lent and the temptations that Christians face in everyday life. He said, “[There are] three temptations for the Christian, which seek to destroy what we have been called to be, three temptations which try to corrode us and tear us down.”
He named wealth as the first temptation, defining it as, “seizing hold of goods destined for all, and using them only for ‘my own people’.” The second was vanity, which he said was “the pursuit of prestige based on the exclusion of those who are different.” The third and final temptation he described was pride, or “putting oneself on a higher level than one truly is on, feeling that one does not share the life of ‘mere mortals’, and yet being one who prays every day: ‘I thank you Lord that you have not made me like those others.” After his speech and Mass, Pope Francis then retuned to Mexico City.
After his time in Mexico City, Pope Francis travelled to Ciudad Juarez, a city located on the border with the United States. During the Mass the Pope criticized both Mexican and American leaders, saying “The forced migration of thousands of Central Americans is a human tragedy and humanitarian crisis." He observed that migrants “get caught up in a web that ensnares and always destroys the poorest." The homily ended with a call to action as the Pope said, "Let us together ask our God for the gift of conversion, the gift of tears, let us ask him to give us open hearts like the Ninevites, open to his call heard in the suffering faces of countless men and women. No more death! No more exploitation!"
Pope Francis finished his trip on February 18 after spending more time in Mexico City working with children, and continuing his habit of spending time with those who are least fortunate.