Today, Pope Francis will be wrapping up a historic six-day visit to the U.S.-Mexico border. He has saved the best for last, ending his trip with an open air Holy Mass in Ciudad Juarez, followed by a blessing and wreath-laying at the U.S.-Mexico border to honor the memories of the estimated 6,000 immigrants who have died while attempting to cross the border.
Both the Mass and the blessing will be live-streamed from the Vatican’s YouTube page starting at 4:45 p.m. CST.
As if such a historic trip wasn’t already interesting enough to American audiences, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump recently dismissed the pope’s border visit as "political," which garnered an official retort from a Vatican spokesperson.
While the visit finale (and Mr. Trump’s dismissal of the Holy Father) will likely draw the most media attention, the pope has been busy the past few days speaking on a number of social justice issues in addition to immigration. Included in that:
Environmental protection and indigenous rights
Pope Francis conducted Mass in the Mexican state of Chiapas (home to more than 1 million indigenous people), with Bibles available in different indigenous languages in order to make the ceremony accessible to as many audience members as possible.
Pope Francis minced no words when it came to the environment:
“The environmental challenge that we are experiencing and its human causes affects us all and demands our response ... we can no longer remain silent before one of the greatest environmental crises in world history.”
He also praised some of the values and practices of Mexico’s indigenous peoples, affirming that, “when it comes to protecting the environment, you have much to teach us.”
Drug trafficking and corruption
On Feb. 13, Pope Francis spoke in Mexico City and decided not to stand on ceremony, instead directly criticizing leaders of both church and state for their complicity in the scourge of drug trafficking sweeping Mexico and the violence that has accompanied it, saying:
“When we seek the path of privileges or benefits for a few to the detriment of the good of all, sooner or later the life of society becomes a fertile soil for corruption, the drug trade, exclusion of different cultures, violence and also human trafficking, kidnapping and death, bringing suffering and slowing down development.”
Tune in at 4:45 p.m. CST for the pope’s final Mass and blessing.