The Pope noted the witness of those he had spoken with: Mexican families, young people, priests and religious, workers and prisoners. He said these people gave “a testimony of a clear and strong faith, the testimony of a lived faith, of a faith that transfigures life.”
He said the people of Mexico have been “so often oppressed, despised, and violated in their dignity.”
The Pope thanked God and Our Lady of Guadalupe for the Feb. 12-18 trip. He voiced his gratitude for everyone who welcomed him to Mexico and helped make the journey a success, Vatican Radio reports.
He also gave thanks to God for his meeting with his “dear brother Kirill,” the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. The historic meeting took place in Cuba Feb. 12 and resulted in a joint declaration.
The pontiff prayed that Mary the Mother of God “might continue to guide us in the journey to unity.”
Pope Francis discussed the Sunday Gospel, which recounts the Transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus “allowed his divine glory to shine forth” in the presence of the disciples.
The Pope said his apostolic visit to Mexico was “an experience of transfiguration.” He added: “the Lord has shown us the light of his glory through the body of the Church, the body of his holy people who live in that land.”
After the Angelus, Pope Francis called on all Christians and people of good will to work “not only for the abolition of the death penalty” but also to improve the conditions in prison. These efforts would respect the human dignity of prisoners, he said.
He appealed to the consciences of government leaders to join “the international consensus for the abolition of the death penalty.” He asked Catholic leaders not to hold executions during the Year of Mercy as a “courageous and exemplary act.”
Rome will host an international convention working to abolish the death penalty on Feb. 22. The event is being promoted by the Sant’Egidio Community.
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Pope Francis said he hoped that the gathering can strengthen efforts to abolish capital punishment.
“The commandment ‘Thou shall not kill’ has absolute value and concerns both the innocent and the guilty,” he said. Even criminals “maintain the inviolable right to life, the gift of God.”
He said the penal system must always be open to the hope of reintegration into society.
Pope Francis also announced gifts for those gathered in St. Peter’s Square: a small box that appeared to be a box of medicine. The box, labeled “Misericordin,” contained a Rosary and an image of the Merciful Jesus.
Volunteers, including homeless people, refugees and the poor, gave out the gifts.
The Pope had distributed the same gifts in November 2013.