At Mexico-US border, Pope prays, delivers stinging critique

Pope Francis has prayed at the US-Mexico border, blessing people gathered across the Rio Grande River in Texas.

On Wednesday, the final day of his visit to Mexico, Francis went up a ramp overlooking the river and the border, to a makeshift memorial representing migrants killed in their attempts to reach the US.

Shoes of migrants who died were laid beside crosses at the memorial.

The Pope said a blessing there.

Those gathered on a levee across the river in the US waved and shouted, “Te queremos, papa!” — “We love you, Pope.”

Among the people on the levee were families seeking asylum in the US.

Pope Francis did not cross into the US.

Tens of thousands of people gathered on both sides of the border to hear the Pope.

Pope Francis celebrated a Mass in Ciudad Juarez, just 80 metres from the border.

People in El Paso in Texas watched him via large television screens.

In his homily, Francis delivered a blistering salvo at injustices in Mexico and apparent indifference in the United States.

He did so without mentioning either country by name.

Francis called the “forced migration” of thousands of Central Americans a “human tragedy” and “humanitarian crisis”.

“Being faced with so many legal vacuums,” the Pope said before a congregation of more than 200,000 people, “they get caught up in a web that ensnares and always destroys the poorest”.

“Injustice is radicalised in the young,” the Pope continued.

“They are ‘cannon fodder,’ persecuted and threatened when they try to flee the spiral of violence and the hell of drugs.”

The Pope asked for prayers for conversion, for tears, for an opening of hearts.

A Vatican spokesman said US presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s previous criticism of the Pope’s visit to the border was “very strange”.


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