Mexico: Protests and Celebrations Mark Pope Benedict's Visit

Over the period of March 23, 24, 25 and 26, 2012, Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger (better known as Pope Benedict XVI), in his current role as Head State of Vatican City and the Pope of the Catholic Church, carried out his pastoral visit to Mexico in the accompaniment of several other men of the clergy.

Ratzinger did not visit the Mexican Federal District (Mexico's capital city) but limited himself to Guanajuato. He attended a series of public ceremonies beginning with his arrival at the International Airport of Guanajuato, where, with respect to the protocol that corresponds to the visit of  Head of State, he was welcomed by the President of the United Mexican States.

Silao, Guanajuato, March 26, 2012. President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa and Pope Benedict XVI. Imagee by Flickr user Gobierno Federal (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

However, days leading up to his visit, Twitter user Genaro Lozano (@genarolozano) [es] caused quite the stir by broadcasting the hashtag #desnudateparaelpapa [es] (“Get naked for the Pope”), and promoting nudity as a form of protest against the Pope's visit and against the attitude of the Catholic Church towards sexual education, abortion and sexual diversity:

Porque educación sexual y los preservativos salvan vidas, detienen al VIH y no dejan chavas con embarazos no deseados #desnudateparaelpapa

Because sexual education and condoms save lives, they prevent HIV and don't leave women with unwanted pregnancies #getnakedforthepope

The same Twitter user also pointed out [es]:

Porque hay fieles católicos que son LGBT y que al clero les da asquito #desnudateparaelpapa

Because there are loyal Catholics that are LGBT and that, to the clergy makes them disgusting #getnakedforthepope

On the other side of the coin, user Luz Adriana Arellano (@Luz_AdrianaAL) [es], shared limited feelings on the Pope's arrival:

Ya quiero que llegue el papa me llena de emoción!!

I look forward to the Pope's arrival, it fills me with such excitement!!

User Caleb (@CalebTorres1) [es], also displayed similar feelings, showing his hope that the Catholic leader's visit would be beneficial:

Ya quiero que llegue el Papa y que por su divina presencia se acabe la violencia y deje de temblar. Amen

I look forward to the arrival of the Pope. May his divine presence put an end to the violence and stop the fear. Amen

Lawyer Roberto Vélez (@bobelenigma) [es] expressed his opinion with regards to the hope that the Bishop of Rome's visit will resolve many of the country's problems:

Increíblemente en nuestro país las soluciones a tantos y tan variados problemas se están encomendando a la visita pastoral de Ratzinger

It is incredible that the solutions to so many of our country's problems are becoming entrusted to the pastoral visit of Ratzinger

Blogger Francisco Xavier Sánchez [es] approached the theme of the pastoral visit in the following manner:

Es una alegría tener entre nosotros al sucesor de Pedro, guía espiritual de la Iglesia católica. Un viaje que nos permite reflexionar sobre la evangelización y el desempeño de la Iglesia católica en nuestro país.

Es verdad que la religión católica sigue siendo mayoritaria en México. Sin embargo considero que vamos bajando en cifras con respecto a otros grupos religiosos, e incluso a sectas, que han crecido mucho últimamente en nuestro país. Aunque también hay que considerar que las cifras son engañosas cuando se trata de hablar de porcentajes en religión. Porque finalmente ¿cuántos de los que se dicen católicos son practicantes? E incluso ¿qué debemos entender por “ser practicante”? Porque se puede llevar una vida “externa” basada en el culto que no refleje realmente una “actitud interior” y un compromiso social de vida. Digo todo esto porque la esencia de la religión no consiste tanto en reuniones multitudinarias sino en compromisos concretos y personales de vida. Aunque lo primero puede (y debería) ayudar a lo otro.

It is a joy to have amongst us the successor of Peter, the spiritual guide of the Catholic Church. It is a trip that has allowed us to reflect on the evangelism as well as the performance of the Catholic Church in our country.

Is is true that the Catholic religion continues to be the majority in Mexico. But, I believe that we are going down in numbers compared to other religious groups, including sects, which have grown a lot lately in our country. Also, you have to consider the fact that numbers are deceitful, when speaking about percentages of religion. How many of you that say you are Catholics are actually practicing? In addition, what do we understand when we say ‘practicing'? You can lead an “exterior” life, based on the cult that does not actually reflect an “inner attitude” and social commitment to life. I say all of this because the essence of religion doesn't consist so much of multitudinous meetings, but rather of personal and concrete commitments to life. Although, the first one can (and would be) helpful to the other.

In his blog, Jenaro Villamil [es] criticized the media coverage of the Pope's visit:

No hay día en que las televisoras no nos apabullen con los detalles más insustanciales de la llegada del obispo de Roma. No hay programa radiofónico que evada la referencia al viaje breve y singularmente político de Ratzinger.

There isn't a day in which TV stations don't overwhelm us with the insubstantial details of the Bishop of Rome's visit. There isn't a radio programme that avoids making a reference to the short and mainly political visit of Ratzinger.

Political scientist Denise Dresser (@DeniseDresserG) [es], ike many other persons, did not refrain from mentioning the cases of sexual abuse that affect the church that Ratzinger leads. In particular, the case of Marcial Maciel, a priest accused of being sexually abusive:

El caso de Marcial Maciel es escandaloso, ya que él fue protegido mientras sus víctimas fueron ignoradas por Ratzinger durante los 90s.

The case of Marcial Maciel is scandalous; he was protected while his victims were ignored by Ratzinger during the 90's.

She adds that the treatment of the victims is what has been so surprising [es] to her:

Sorprende que el Papa no haya atendido mejor a las víctimas. No basta una disculpa genérica, Urge investigar, sancionar y reparar el daño.

It is surprising that the Pope has not better assisted the victims. A general apology is not enough. There is an urgency to investigate, penalize and repair the damage

After the departure of the Pope, many talked about the amount of media coverage during his visit. Maria Fernández Cadena (@vitamena) [es] expressed her opinion:

Aja ya se fue Don Benedicto, ahora la vendimia de las monedas, recuerditos, los programas especiales.. Le tiro como 1 mes mas en el tema..

There goes Mr Benedict, now for the harvest of the money, souvenirs and special programmes..I give this topic another month..

User Alessia Corcuera (@top_roping_ale) [es] pointed out that the end of the pastoral visit means that the media will return to its coverage of the political campaigns:

Lo único malo de que el Sr. Ratzinger se vaya de México es que los candidatos presidenciales volverán a ser la nota principal día y noche

The only bad thing about Mr. Ratzinger leaving Mexico is that the presidential candidates will go back to being the main news, day and night

Ratzinger's visit to Mexico resulted in controversy, to say the least. However, amongst other things, his presence served as a way of appreciating the plurality of opinions and expressions that enrich this society. He now turns to Cuba, the Caribbean country that will accommodate the Vatican sovereign from starting March 26.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr user Gobierno Federal, used under a Creative Commons licence (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

1 comment

  • […] Mexico: Protests and Celebrations Mark Pope Benedict’s Visit , J. Tadeo, English translation by Rebevva Knaggs (Español aquí): On the streets and via social networks, Mexicans celebrated as well as protested (even with nudity) the pastoral visit of the Pope of the Catholic Church, Benedict XVI, to Guanajuato from March 23 to 26, 2012. – En las redes sociales y en las calles los mexicanos han estado opinando, celebrando y también protestando (incluso con desnudez) por la visita pastoral del Pontífice de la Iglesia Católica, Benedicto XVI, a Guanajuato, los días 23, 24, 25 y 26 de marzo de 2012. […]

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