Papal Envoy Urges Mexican Indians to Keep Christian Values

Cardinal Re Tells Them They Have a Role in Building the Nation

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MEXICO CITY, NOV. 11, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Only by being faithful to their identity and Christian values can the Indians of Chiapas contribute to a more-just Mexico, says a top Vatican official.

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops, made that observation so as to encourage the Indians «to contribute to the construction of a more fraternal, just, supportive and reconciled Mexico.»

Cardinal Re, who has been in Mexico since Saturday, visited the Diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas to «reinforce ecclesial communion between the Holy See and the diocese, expressing the special interest of the Holy Father, John Paul II, to the youth and native peoples.»

The cardinal’s visit in Chiapas is «a signal of that predilection that the Holy Father has for the Indians,» Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, primate of Mexico, explained Sunday.

«He also comes especially to be with the bishops, because as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, one of his most important tasks is to visit conferences, to be in touch with the bishops of the whole world,» Cardinal Rivera Carrera told reporters.

Addressing some 2,000 Indians, the Vatican official said that «hatred, division and rancor lead nowhere»; on the contrary, «they profoundly break up the human family.»

Accompanied by Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel of San Cristobal, Cardinal Re added in his homily that the Indians «are protagonists of their future.» He emphasized that the Church knows their anxieties and sufferings, and embraces them with a mother’s love and repeats to them, like St. Paul, that they must not live «like men without hope.»

Cardinal Re reconfirmed the Holy See’s suspension of ordinations of new permanent deacons in the diocese.
<br> «In the other 85 dioceses of Mexico there are fewer deacons than in Chiapas,» he said. What is lacking, Cardinal Re said, is an effort to encourage deacons’ children to follow the call to the priesthood, in order to relieve the region’s shortage of priests.

Cardinal Rivera Carrera noted that the problem is not unique to Chiapas. There is a lack of priests «in the whole of the Mexican southeast and the promotion of priestly vocations is important,» he said.

Cardinal Re told the Indians: «The Church is with you, encourages you, and accompanies you. Always keep the lamps of faith burning.»

Today, Cardinal Re was scheduled to attend the opening of the 74th assembly of the Mexican bishops’ conference in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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