Pope Takes His Message on Drug Trafficking’s Threat to Mexico’s Youth

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After urging Mexico’s political and religious leaders to take stronger stands against organized crime, Pope Francis on Tuesday took his message to a front line of the drug war, the western state of Michoacan, where many were looking to the head of the Roman Catholic Church to keep up the pressure.

People stake out spots at dawn near the cathedral to see the Pope arrive in Morelia, Michoacan. (Credit: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

People stake out spots at dawn near the cathedral to see the Pope arrive in Morelia, Michoacan. (Credit: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

The pope’s strongly worded speech Saturday has been widely embraced here in a region that has reached states of near-anarchy from years of drug cartel domination and government corruption.

Francis did not specifically mention the dozens of priests who have been killed, kidnapped or threatened by drug traffickers and other criminal gangs in Michoacan. But he did allude to the larger panorama of victims, urging Mexicans to resist the despair and "resignation" that so much violence creates.

Thousands of state, federal and military forces will provide some of the tightest security on the pope’s one-day trip to the state capital of Morelia as he says Mass in the morning and addresses tens of thousands of youngsters at an afternoon stadium event.

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