MEXICO CITY, APRIL 12, 2011 (Zenit.org).- With his five trips to Mexico City, his love for Our Lady of Guadalupe, and his spontaneous warmth, Pope John Paul II endeared himself to the Mexican people as if he were one of them.
A massive celebration April 3 in Mexico City’s Aztec Stadium manifested this nation’s anticipation of the May 1 beatification of “their Pope.”
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio in Mexico, presided over the celebration, recalling the Polish Pontiff’s words as he left Mexico at the end of his fifth visit (during which he had canonized the visionary of Guadalupe, St. Juan Diego): “I’m going but I’m not going. I’m going but I won’t be absent, because although I’m going, in my heart I am staying!”
Archbishop Pierre reflected, “These words (…) appear to us today as a mysterious reality as we gather to render him our homage, conscious that from the Communion of Saints he is really with us, inviting us to remember his messages and his teachings and to look at the testimony itself of his life, free of prejudice.”
The Vatican representative affirmed that John Paul II “is really present, above all in our minds and hearts, renewing that invitation that he addressed for the first time to the world six days after his election: ‘Do not be afraid! […] Open wide the doors to Christ!'”
Archbishop Pierre recalled how the Holy Father made this invitation over and over again, “without being afraid of the truth and looking at the only horizon of hope that is the Lord Jesus, conqueror of evil, of sin and of death.”
Mexico is the country with the second largest number of Catholics in the world (after Brazil). So far, John Paul II is the only Pontiff to visit the North American nation. In fact, the Polish Pope’s first trip abroad brought him to Mexico, in January 1979, when he came to open the meeting of the Latin American Episcopal Council in Puebla.
The memory of the immense masses of humanity that crowded the streets, squares, stadiums and churches stayed in the Pope’s heart as well as in the hearts of Mexicans. And it perceptibly contributed to the positive transformation of relations between the Church and state and the exercise of religious liberty in Mexico.
“Because of this, we also thank God today who enabled the Mexican people to walk virtually holding the hand of the great man who was able to defend the human dignity of every man and every woman, who claimed the rights of the poor, respect for our Indian brothers, social justice, the practice of solidarity, the quest for the common good and for peace,” Archbishop Pierre continued. “The great man who did not cease to encourage all to fight to banish corruption, poverty, injustice, violence, drug addiction and drug trafficking from his beloved Mexico.
“The great man who was also able to manifest to us his paternal ‘lament’ over the indifference and lack of respect of many for the transcendent values of the human person, of his dignity and liberty, of his inviolable right to life and of the inestimable gift of the family. Factors, these, which progressively have made the real identity of the Mexican people change.”
Recalling the unforgettable presence of John Paul II as the people cried out in the streets, “Juan Pablo, hermano, ya eres mexicano” (John Paul, our brother, now you are Mexican), the nuncio exclaimed: “You, Mexican children and brothers of John Paul II, will always have in your hearts the ‘Pope friend’ who on his last trip to Mexico prayed: “Beloved Juan Diego, ‘the eagle that speaks!’ Show us the way that leads to the Dark Virgin of Tepeyac (…). as she is the loving and compassionate Mother who guides us to the true God.”
At the end of his message, the nuncio said that “the little Dark Virgin, to whom he consecrated his pontificate, has already received John Paul II next to her. Because of this, we can be sure that, together with her, John Paul II will also be favoring us with his loving intercession before God our Father, so that we are able to keep alive and active, each one of us and all of us as a nation, the memory of his visits, the timeliness and undeniable value of his teachings, and the transparency of his humility and of his testimony of life.”