Pope Francis Urges Mexico to Guard Against the Forces of ‘Kidnapping and Death’

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With bluntness rare for a pope, Francis wasted no time on his first full day in Mexico on Saturday, taking to task both the political elite here and the often-ineffective church leadership for failing to confront the grievous ills facing this troubled country.

Pope Francis, who has made work on behalf of the downtrodden the hallmark of his papacy, had promised he would be direct in his messages to this overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country. And he was.

Speaking early Saturday at the official welcoming ceremony in Mexico’s 17th-century National Palace, with President Enrique Peña Nieto, the Cabinet and an array of politicians as his audience, the pope spoke of the need for “men and women who are upright, honest and capable of working for the common good” to build a future of hope in a land of despair.

“Each time we seek the path of privileges or benefits for a few, to the detriment of the good of all,” Francis said, “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.”

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