Pope holds border Mass in Mexico

Francis apologized to indigenous peoples, blasted narcos

(ANSA) - Rome, February 17 - Pope Francis on Wednesday wrapped up his visit to Mexico by saying Mass at the fence separating the Central American nation from the United States at the border city of Ciudad Juarez.
    The Mass, which could be followed from both countries, was dedicated to the victims of violence including 43 students who went missing in Iguala in 2014.
    Formerly one of the world's deadliest cities, Ciudad Juarez is located just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas - a major migrant crossing from South to North. The pontiff's trip focusing on the plight of migrants who risk their lives to reach the United States occured as the number of Central Americans apprehended at the border is on the rise.
    Before the border Mass, the pontiff met with 700 detainees at the 3,600-inmate Cereso 3 prison, which holds many of Mexico's most feared narcos hitmen.
    He urged them to break the "vicious cycle of violence and exclusion" by talking to their loved ones and rejecting the deadly culture of drugs, greed and excess.
    "Those who have suffered deeply and...have experienced hell can become prophets in society," he said.
    In a visit Tuesday to the violent state of Michoacan, the pontiff spoke out against drug trafficking, saying resignation to it was "among the devil's favorite weapons" and urging Mexican youth to turn to Jesus in order to reject materialism and stay out of the drug trade.
    On Monday, the third day of his apostolic visit to Mexico, the pope asked representatives of the indigenous peoples for their forgiveness for what he called their "systematic" exclusion from society and the exploitation of their lands in the poor southern state of Chiapas.
    He also endorsed the use of native languages in worship in an effort to stem a tide of Protestant conversions in what is now Mexico's least-Catholic region.
    The pontiff is scheduled to fly out of Ciudad Juarez at 19:00 local time and is expected to arrive at Rome's Ciampino Airport at 14:45 local time on Thursday.