, MEXICO CITY, Feb 13 – Pope Francis urged Mexican bishops Saturday to take on drug trafficking with “prophetic courage,” warning that it represents a moral challenge to society and the church.
“The magnitude of this phenomenon, the complexity of its causes, its immensity and its scope which devours like a metastasis, and the gravity of the violence which divides with its distorted expressions, do not allow us as Pastors of the Church to hide behind anodyne denunciations,” Francis said in a speech in Mexico City’s Cathedral.
“Rather, they demand of us a prophetic courage as well as a reliable and qualified pastoral plan, so that we can gradually help build that fragile network of human relationships without which all of us would be defeated from the outset in the face of such an insidious threat.”
Francis was addressing bishops in a speech at the cathedral after meeting in the nearby National Palace with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and riding in his popemobile around the historic Zocalo square.
Mexicans hope the pope will use his visit to push Pena Nieto to fix the nation’s persistent problems, notably violence linked to drug gangs.
A prison riot killed 49 inmates on Thursday and the disappearance of 43 students in 2014 shocked the country.
“I urge you not to underestimate the moral and antisocial challenge which the drug trade represents for Mexican society as a whole, as well as for the Church,” the 79-year-old pontiff said.