Where the Pope will be: Sight and Sound

This is a video talking about a place called El Punto, which is now only a stage, but it’s in the preparation stages for creating a Church/Cultural Center/Mental Health Space specializing in grief and trauma. It’s pretty cool. This is where the Pope will celebrate mass, and it’s right at the border with El Paso, Texas, which you can see from there:

Here’s a Video that tracks the making of this place so you can get a better look of it, which is the 5th stop for the Pope tomorrow, February 17. Here’s the list of all the stops with a map:

  1. Airport
  2. CERESO: Social Re-adaptation Center, A.K.A. a maximum security jail.
  3. Meeting with business people from the city, and workers. (Carlos Slim might be there. He is possibly the wealthiest person in the world.)
  4. Lunch at the seminary
  5. Mass at “El Punto”
  6. Airport

Mapa El Papa.jpg

Below is a video of me at a spot between spots 4 and 5.






Where the Pope will be: Sight and Sound

Maquiladora Perspectives: A contemplation of Place

People are not machines. That’s an important takeaway from Juárez’s violence. Yet, don’t be too quick to judge.

Let’s talk about Juárez before maquiladoras. The economy of Ciudad Juarez was deeply affected by WWIsinc and WWII, given its proximity to Fort Bliss Military Base, about 20 minutes away by car now. During the first World War, two million soldiers were sent to Fort Bliss. The region developed a very large industry of tourism, bars and nightclubs to serve many of these soldiers, as well as others. Prostitution was unfortunately a really big business as well.

Between the two World Wars was Prohibition, and Ciudad Juárez was always the closest place to Fort Bliss away from U.S. Law. Commerce, Cotton, and Construction were also sources of work, but never very strong.

A friend of my family recalls the time period. He remembers opening the newspaper, looking at the ads for jobs and reading mainly requests for female bartenders and waitresses. Apparently Ciudad Juárez was known as Sin City.

At the time, some businesspeople from Ciudad Juárez started to usawonder what could be done to improve the city’s future. After much research a brilliant idea came about: bring U.S. manufacturing work to the city. As transportation methods had improved, the location of this border placed Ciudad Juárez in a privileged position. It’s in the dead center of the Country ready to ship goods all around the U.S.  The idea was that they could benefit from cheap labor, but Mexico could benefit from learning the trade to foster work like this independently. However, it took a life of its own. Many factories came over, and all the sudden the city was booming with work. The unemployment rate in Mexico during the 1990’s was in negative numbers. There were Maquiladoras(factories) that had stationary signs requesting for workers.

What went unnoticed at the top, while businesspeople were busy “taking care of business”butterfly-dominos was the rupturing to the Social Fabric that was happening beneath the surface. Since labor was cheap, parents took 2 shifts, at the same time, leaving an inordinate amount of children to themselves.It was the butterfly effect: the wind of a butterfly flapping its wings in one place causing a hurricane somewhere else. Perhaps the sin of the system was that the good people who built new jobs, and brought in a creative new industry to town failed to see their “human resource” as more than just a resource. Perhaps they failed to see their humanness.

It was these children who grew up without parents who were the main players in the thick of the violence. It was a disengaged generation. They also underestimated the humanness of their fellow citizens.

This is a story that is developing, and there are always second chances. Perhaps the violence was the shake up needed to wake people up to the depth of the tear in the Social Fabric. Rebuilding IS happening as we speak. I’ll say more on those initiatives in later posts.

Special Thanks to Annie Bermudez for her perspective helping me appreciate the

Maquiladora Perspectives: A contemplation of Place

Action Plan and Update


I’ve been thinking and praying about what this blog should be about.

I’m not going to write about things as they happen. There’s plenty of resources for you to find online. I might provide links. However, I am here to help you understand Juarez – its people and places, the meaning the Pope’s visit may have, and what will remain after he’s gone. Being a Jesuit, I’d like to do it in an Ignatian way, so I will follow the structure of an Ignatian Contemplation. This is what Ignatian Contemplation looks like:


This was in the back of my mind when I started with posts labeled “A Contemplation of Place.” I need to write more of these, and I’ve been interviewing people in order to do this. I’ll include the interviews, which I need to translate. I think you’ll love them. I hope this does for you what the Contemplation of Place does in a prayer. It provides a context, where later meditations can turn alive.

The second kind of posts will be labeled “Reflections,” and those will be reflections on what the experience of having the Pope here has meant for me and people here. I liken this to Entering the Scene of a meditation in Ignatian Contemplation because in entering the scene we’re able to gain new insight into scripture, or an image. Those insights are what these Reflections will be about the Pope’s visit.

Finally, I’ll try to point at what some of the “Effects” may be, including what God may be saying to us moving forward. I do intend that someone could use this blog as prayer. This is what the structure of the blog will be like:


This is the comparison between what I’m trying to do and an Ignatian contemplation:


There you go!

Action Plan and Update

Summary: Pope’s Address to Bishops in Mexico

bishops collage


Thanked them for welcoming him at the basilica.

  • Provided a masterful analysis of three forces that are always in tension in Mexico: The ancient indigenous people, Christianity, and Modern European Rationalism (exalting independence and freedom, and with its danger of reducing human beings to their minds).
  • He said he invited the bishops to gaze like Mary.

A Gaze of Tenderness

  • God’s love is tender, sweet, and merciful. There’s an “omnipotent weakness” in this.
  • Called them to be pastors of transparency, not corrupted by materialism, or nepotism.
  • Pastors should answer the questions in the hearts and minds of people of today before they ask them. Some of the difficult issues of today are:
    • Empty promises of Modern European Rationalism. He spoke of Descartes’ idea of “I think therefore I am” or Cogito ergo Sum, as proven to leave people empty.
    • In our globalized world, the powerful can’t exist without the vulnerability of others.
    • Globalization and technology make the distant feel close. Sadly, though, it makes distant what should be close.
  • Preaching Christ as a fulfillment of all these human needs is urgent and most important. Don’t waste time in Secondary things
  • Don’t waste time in gossip, careerism, empty plans of hegemony, and interest groups.
  • Help your priests in understanding their ministry
  • Focus on Christ, the work of the father. Otherwise we lose our identity, and “to a fault” – looking up he repeated, “to a fault” – make God’s grace void. Otherwise, we use God’s words as empty rhetoric. Incapable of transforming the world.
  • Need to offer a motherly embrace to youth. Need to call and get their attention.
  • We’re faced to a disease like cancer, and our role can’t be complacent

A Gaze that Sows

  • Sow the way God sewed the tilma of Guadalupe, symbol of God’s desire to imprint his love on us.
  • Imitate the patience of sewing. Don’t give up on your diocese, by asking or waiting to be reassigned.
  • Imitate God’s condescendence, and God’s capacity to lower himself to the level of humanity.
  • Go out to the indigenous people.
    • Mexico needs to look at its roots.
    • Recognize their contribution, which makes Mexico a unique nation.
    • Part of the Church’s calling to unite is to bring in people form different backgrounds.
    • Mexico’s need for self-possession, and ownership of their identity.

An Attentive and Close Gaze, not a Dormant one

  • Don’t provide old answers to new questions
  • Get tired: generosity
  • Overcome the temptation to distance oneself from each other as Bishops.
  • Warning against clericalism: coldness, indifference, triumphalism, self-referencing.
  • Guadalupe teaches us the strength of lowering one-self to be with others at eye-level vs. misuse of power.
  • Look over your priests. Join their joys and sadness.

A gaze of Unity

  • The mission of the Church can only be achieved in communion.
  • Affirmation of the Conference of Bishops:
    • Members increased, permanent formation, fraternity environment, collegiality has increased, their pastoral interventions have influenced the whole country. Some shared works towards family, vocations, and social ministries have been fruitful.
  • Do not be discouraged by difficulties, and do not spare any effort to promote the missionary zeal, specially for the most in need.
    • The missionary zeal is essential for the future.
  • Formation of lay people Going avoiding clericalism
  • Mexico will be greatly benefitted by a “unifying testimony of the Christian message”
  • Call to the Pontifical University to universality, and not empty rationalism
  • Communion and Unity among each other.
    • Out of script: If you have to fight, fight it out. If you need to say things to each other, say them. But do it like men of God to each other’s face, apologizing if you crossed a line, but keeping unity of bishops.
  • We do not need princes, but a community of Witnesses of the Lord
  • Appreciation of the Pope towards their work with migrants
    • Reinforce your ties with the U.S.
    • Don’t let migrants loose their faith, or let them be reduced to a mere “human resource”

For the full text press here

For the video press here 

Summary: Pope’s Address to Bishops in Mexico

Challenges and Advice to Bishops


In his address to the Bishops of Mexico, the pope spoke some hard truths. He spoke to them at the Basilica of our Lady of Guadalupe. He broke down his speech in four sections each of them focusing on having a gaze like the one that God has on us, and which Our Lady of Guadalupe has on God’s people. He encouraged them to have a Gaze of Tenderness, a gaze that sews, an attentive and close gaze versus a dormant one, and a gaze of unity and unified vision.

The most striking feature to me was how many challenges he said they needed to avoid, paired with how much advice he gave them. Many were left with a feeling that he was a bit rough on them. However, I think it was very pastoral while being very honest about some things that may need changing. Here’s a list of the main challenges and advice he gave them:

Challenged Bishops to Avoid:

  • Lack of transparency
  • Materialism
  • Nepotism
  • Gossip
  • Careerism
  • Empty plans of hegemony
  • Interest groups
  • Empty rhetoric without Christ, which obstructs God’s grace “to a fault”
  • Being complacent before a sick church.
  • Giving up on your people/diocese waiting or asking to be reassigned
  • Providing old answers to new questions and realities
  • Distancing from each other as Bishops.
  • Clericalism
  • Coldness
  • Indiference
  • Triumphalism
  • Self-referencing
  • Misuse of power
  • Being discouraged by difficulties
  • Empty rationalism in the promotion of education at the Pontifical University
  • Behaving as Princes of the Church, instead of witnesses of the Lord
  • Letting Christians to lose their faith. Don’t let them be reduced to a mere “human resource”

Encouraged them to:

  • See to people with tender love
  • Help priests understand their ministry.
  • Offer a motherly embrace to youth
  • Call to reach out to young people.
  • Imprint God’s love on people
  • Be patient in the work of God
  • Join God’s condescendence, lowering God’s self to our level.
  • Reach out to the indigenous people
  • Recognize the cultural heritage of the indigenous people
  • Get tired, be generous
  • Lower themselves to be with others
  • Look over priests
  • Join with priests’ joys and sadness
  • Be compassionate toward priests
  • Seek communion and unity
  • Continue the good they have already achieved (increased members, permanent formation, more fraternal environment than before, greater collegiality, fruitful pastoral interventions)
  • Promote missionary zeal, essential for the future
  • Promote the formation of lay people
  • Seek universality while providing education at the Pontifical University
  • Be honest and even struggle with each other face to face, asking forgiveness if necessary.
  • Continue their positive work towards migrants
  • Reinforce ties with the US

For the full text press here

For the video press here

For an actual outline and summary of his talk please see my following post.



Challenges and Advice to Bishops

Pope’s First Speech in Mexico

papaThese are some of the highlights for me from the Pope’s speech in Mexico’s National Palace after listening to the welcoming speech by President Peña Nieto. In his style he was very friendly, genuine, but he didn’t shy away of speaking of some difficult places where the common good is not being served in Mexico. He did so in such a graceful way that he left everyone feeling like: we’re in this together, and our goals and the goals of the Church do intersect. He could have been a lot tougher, but friendly without shying away from difficult topics seems to be what he was going for. Note that with his opening words he sets up his more secular purpose: to be a missionary of mercy and peace, but also an explicitly religious one: to pay homage to our lady of Guadalupe. He:

  • Thanked Peña Nieto, and the State representatives for welcoming him.
  • “I come as a missionary of mercy and peace -but also as a son who wants to pay homage to the Virgin of Guadalupe, and allow himself to be seen by her.”
  • Affirmed Mexico for:
    • Its biodiversity, cultural diversity in indigenous cultures, and their wisdom.
    • Its youth, one of its greatest richness, more than half of the population. This brings great hope for the future, he said.
  • Called to awareness of everyone’s responsibility in constructing the Mexico we want for coming generations.
  • He said that the pursuit of the Common Good “In the 21st century is not in such great demand.”
  • “The Privilege of the few prepares a fertile soil for corruption, drug trade, exclusion of different cultures, violence and also human trafficking, kidnapping and death, bringing suffering and slowing down development.”
  • To all cultural and political leaders he said: Give people the opportunity to be authors of their own destiny. Access to basic human needs: “real justice,” “effective security.” These are not only policies, but urgent formation in personal responsibility, and it involves all Mexicans in different spheres, public or private, collective or individual.
  • He assured the president that the government of Mexico can count on the cooperation of the Catholic Church in its willingness to “serve the great causes of humankind: the building a civilization of love.”

If you want the transcript you can find it here.

If you want the video you can find it here.

Pope’s First Speech in Mexico

Mexico’s President Welcomed the Pope

Welcoming the Pope to the National Palace in Mexico City


This was a very friendly address. While we didn’t get much in way of a reaction from the Pope, toward the end there was a smile on his face. This was when President Peña Nieto said: ‘You will leave a mark in Mexico. I’m sure Mexico will leave a mark on you.’ It was a nice moment. This is an outline of what Peña Nieto said.

  • Recognized Pope’s investiture as a head of state.
  • Acknowledged that this was the first time a Pope was welcomed to the National Palace in Mexico City
  • Also recognized that this visit transcends two heads of state meeting because of what he means to the people of Mexico.
  • Praised him for his many qualities
  • Acknowledged challenges of today: Inequality of wealth distribution, new exclusions of technology, migratory problems, intolerance, care of the planet.
  • People today are faced with the choice of doing good, being indifferent or being led by evil.
  • Mexico is in great need of renewing hope in solidarity.
  • Governments need to provide the basic needs of society, and provide opportunities for people.
  • Re-affirmed the need of a separation of Church and state in order to serve diversity, and promote dialogue.
  • You will leave a mark in Mexico and I am sure Mexico will leave a mark in you.
    • (This was the only part followed by a smile by the pope.)
  • Closing words: We welcome your words and your light.

If you want to read the full text, here it is.

If you want to watch it, here it is.

Mexico’s President Welcomed the Pope