Pope Benedict, wearing a sombrero, arrives to celebrate Mass at Bicentennial Park in Silao, Mexico, March 25.

CNS PHOTO | L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO

Pope Benedict, wearing a sombrero, arrives to celebrate Mass at Bicentennial Park in Silao, Mexico, March 25.

April 2, 2012
FRANCIS ROCCA
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

Celebrating Mass in the Catholic heartland of Mexico, Pope Benedict told a nation and a continent suffering from poverty, corruption and violence, to trust in God and the intercession of Mary.

A "more just and fraternal society" will not come about by following secular ideologies, but only through a divinely inspired change in the human heart, the pope said.

"When addressing the deeper dimension of personal and community life, human strategies will not suffice to save us," the pope said in his homily during the outdoor Mass at Guanajuato Bicentennial Park in Silao March 25.

People on a balcony cheer and take photos as Pope Benedict leaves after celebrating a vespers service in Leon, Mexico, March 25.

CNS PHOTO | PAUL HARING

People on a balcony cheer and take photos as Pope Benedict leaves after celebrating a vespers service in Leon, Mexico, March 25.

"We must have recourse to the one who alone can give life in its fullness, because he is the essence of life and its author."

Yet the pope made it clear that he was not encouraging believers to withdraw into a private kind of piety uninvolved with worldly affairs.

"The first job of the Church is to educate consciences," he said, "both in individual ethics and public ethics."

People cheer as the popemobile carrying Pope Benedict makes its way through the city of  Guanajuato, Mexico, March 24.

CNS PHOTO | CLAUDIA DAUT, REUTERS

People cheer as the popemobile carrying Pope Benedict makes its way through the city of Guanajuato, Mexico, March 24.

It was Pope Benedict's second visit to Latin America and to Mexico during his pontificate.

Citing the responsorial psalm for the day's Mass – "Create a clean heart in me, O God" – the pope said that evil can be overcome only through a divinely inspired change of the human heart.

The pope made note of the monument to Christ the King visible atop a nearby hill and observed that Christ's "kingdom does not stand on the power of his armies subduing others through force or violence.

"It rests on a higher power that wins over hearts: the love of God that he brought into the world with his sacrifice and the truth to which he bore witness."

That message was consistent with Pope Benedict's frequently stated objections to strategies for social progress that blend Christian social doctrine with Marxism or other secular ideologies.

Young Men wait for Pope Benedict to arrive to celebrate mass in Silao, Mexico, March 25.

CNS PHOTO | CLAUDIA DAUT, REUTERS

Young Men wait for Pope Benedict to arrive to celebrate mass in Silao, Mexico, March 25.

"The Church is not a political power, it is not a party," the pope told reporters on his flight to Mexico March 23. "It is a moral reality, a moral power."

In his Silao homily, the pope did not specifically address any of Latin America's current social problems, but after praying the Angelus following the Mass, he recited a litany of ills plaguing Mexico and other countries in the region.

"So many families are separated or forced to emigrate, . . . so many are suffering due to poverty, corruption, domestic violence, drug trafficking, the crisis of values and increased crime."

Speaking in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, which was a stronghold of the 1920s Cristero Rebellion against an anti-clerical national regime, Pope Benedict reaffirmed his message of nonviolence.

He prayed that Mary's influence would "promote fraternity, setting aside futile acts of revenge and banishing all divisive hatred."