Pope Francis says everyone should learn how to apologize to the country’s natives.
MEXICO CITY (AA) – Pope Francis on Monday denounced Mexico's centuries-old exploitation and exclusion of its indigenous people.
In a mass in Chiapas, an indigenous southern state known that is the poorest in the country, the head of the Catholic Church said the world should learn from native culture, especially from their deep respect and appreciation for Mother Nature.
“The environmental challenge that we are facing and its human causes affects us all and demand our solution,” Francis said during the mass that was celebrated in three different native languages.
About 100,000 people – mostly indigenous, 60 bishops, 120 priests and 16 indigenous seminarians gathered for the celebration San Cristobal de las Casas.
The pope also said everyone should learn how to apologize to the natives. “Some have considered your values, culture and tradition as inferior and others, poisoned by power, money and business, have stolen your lands or contaminated,” he said.
Later, Francis visited the Cathedral of San Cristobal de las Casas, where the former bishop of the diocese, Samuel Ruiz, in 1994 facilitated reconciliation between the Zapatista Army of National Liberation and the Mexican state.
The Zapatistas is a revolutionary political group from Chiapas state that declared war against the Mexican state in 1994, citing severe violation of the rights of indigenous peoples. A peace accord was singed two years later which allowed the Zapatistas to autonomously govern on their territory.
The pope will hold a meeting with catholic families in Tuxtla Gutierrez, capital of Chiapas state. On Tuesday, he will head to Morelia, capital of the violent state of Michocan, where he will celebrate a mass and meet with seminarians. The highlight of Francis’ five-day tour in Mexico is expected to be a mass for migrants and victims of violence, officiated Wednesday in Ciudad Juarez, a few meters from the U.S. border.