120,000 Youths Go on Pilgrimage for "a Better Mexico"

Bishop Hoping for Progress in Religious Rights

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MEXICO CITY, JAN. 28, 2001 (Zenit.org).-
As 120,000 youths joined a pilgrimage to pray for peace and progress, a leading bishop pressed for religious liberty in the world´s second largest Catholic country.

The 18th National Youth Pilgrimage to the Mountain of Christ the King has as its motto, «A Better Mexico.» This annual meeting takes place, precisely in the hill of Cubilete, where the cry «Long Live Christ the King!» was heard from the martyrs of the 1920s religious persecution.

This year´s event follows the election of President Vicente Fox, who in his electoral campaign proposed a «decalogue» to overcome the marginalization of many Mexicans from public life and education.

At a press conference before the youth pilgrimage, the vice president of the Mexican bishops´ conference spoke. Bishop José Guadalupe Martín Rábago said, «The decalogue is not exhaustive nor does it express the implications of the human right to religious liberty in their totality, to which we must be dedicated and for which we must work together.»

He clarified that, during meetings the bishops had with Fox since his election, they have not had the opportunity to discuss the decalogue, which, among other things, proposes the possibility that the Church have its own media.

The bishop said that the discussion was not yet favorable, given the 70-year hold on power by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) which preceded Fox´s victory.

«It was necessary that we all collaborate to go forward solidly in the transition to democracy,» the bishop said. «To have arrived, anxious that the decalogue be fulfilled, would have given the impression that, rather than strengthening democracy in Mexico, we were interested in some type of privilege or advantage.» He added: «This was not the idea.»

Before beginning the ascent of the mountain, to reach the point from which PRI governments instigated the persecution of Catholics 80 years ago, Juan Carlos Romero Hicks, governor of Guanajuato and Fox´s successor in the post, praised the enthusiasm and devotion of youth.

Romero, who in his youth participated in the pilgrimage, said that «an affirmation of values is needed for a better homeland.»

The youths began to walk, some singing and others praying the rosary. Convoys from all the Mexican states arrived for the pilgrimage, particularly coaches from Chihuahua, Merida, Zacatecas, Oaxaca, Aguascalientes, Guadalajara, Puebla, the state of Mexico, and the capital city.

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