On Sunday, Pope Francis held an open-air mass in one of the poverty-stricken suburbs of Mexico and urged the attendees to veer away from the temptations offered by the country's drug trade industry. He also condemned those involved in the illegal trade and referred to them as "dealers of death."
Over 3,000 individuals attended the mass held in Ecatepec, the most populous region of Mexico City, according to The Washington Post. Due to the high level of poverty in this area, many drug-related gangs and organizations operate in this area to prey on those looking to improve their lives through whatever means.
As a result, violence, gang killings, kidnappings and drug trades have become a daily part of the residents' lives.
In his homily, Pope France told the crowd that participating in such illegal operations is like forging a deal with the devil. And, in a deal like this, "there is no dialogue," he said. He noted that as long as they continue working with gang leaders and drug dealers in the area, they will never be able to defeat the evil reigning over Ecatepec.
Aside from the criminals operating in the area, the Pope also focused his attention on the wealthy families who take advantage of Mexico's current situation through corruption and exploitation. This wealthy class, which only takes up a small portion of the entire population, is also one of the factors keeping the rest of the country in poverty, Reuters reported.
To alleviate this, the Pope said in his final prayer that that residents of Mexico should act in order to transform their country into its own land of opportunity. By doing so, people will no longer have to risk their lives by traveling to faraway destinations in the hopes of finding work or joining illegal organizations.
The mass held by Pope Francis in Ecatepec, which is home to about 1.6 million people, is part of his five-day trip to Mexico. Although the country has been known for its daily dose of violence brought upon by drug cartels and other criminal entities, the Pope's presence in the country has provided a glimmer of hope for many residents living there.
"He's coming to Ecatepec because we need him hire," Ignacia Godinez, one of the locals who attended the Mass said according to The Guardian. "Kidnappings, robberies and drugs have all increased, and he is bringing comfort."
"His message will reach those who need it so that people know we, the good people, outnumber the bad," she added.