Jason Beaubien of National Public Radio reports on Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Mexico, where he is expected to address the drug violence that has wracked the country in recent years.
Pope Benedict XVI begins a visit Friday that takes him to Mexico, a country with around 100 million Catholics, and to Cuba, a place where church leaders have played an increasingly active role in seeking change.
There are sensitive issues in both countries that the pope is likely to address in some form. In Mexico, it’s the brutal drug war that has claimed roughly 50,000 lives over the past five years.
The piece quotes Rick Jones of Catholic Relief Services:
Church officials say the pontiff is expected to directly address the drug violence that has been plaguing Mexico.
This message will resonate throughout the region, says Rick Jones, the deputy regional director for global solidarity and justice with Catholic Relief Services, based in El Salvador.
Jones says that from Colombia through Central America all the way to the U.S. border, drug cartels have been terrorizing communities. Especially in parts of Mexico where the gangs have waged a protracted, brutal war against the state, he says it has caused people to lose faith in humanity.
“Every time I talk to people in Mexico, they question themselves rhetorically, ‘What’s happened to us? Why are we shooting at one another?’ People are looking for some ethical direction. And I think the church still has a role to play in that,” Jones says.
Jones says the Catholic Church still has a lot of credibility in Latin America. He expects the pope to underscore during this visit how the church can help confront the terror that is currently being spread by organized crime.
“A call for coming together, overcoming fear [and] mistrust is an important role that I think the pope will have in ushering that call,” he says.