Amid Criticism for the “Spectacle” of His Mexico Visit, Pope Francis Apologizes to the Indigenous Communities of Chiapas

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Pope Francis is now more than halfway through his trip to Mexico, and on Monday, he took the time to honor indigenous communities in Chiapas. Just as he did in July 2015, Pope Francis once again apologized to indigenous people. This time, he asked them for forgiveness for the ostracism these communities face, and encouraged others to do better, according to the BBC.

“On many occasions, in a systematic and organized way, your people have been misunderstood and excluded from society,” el Papa said about the communities from Chiapas. “Some have considered your values, culture, and traditions to be inferior. Others, intoxicated by power, money, and market trends, have stolen your lands or contaminated them. How said this is. How worthwhile it would be for reach of us to examine our conscience and learn to say, ‘Forgive me!’”

His Chiapas mass included readings and hymns in Chol, Tzotzil and Tzeltal languages, which runs contrary to the previous church behavior of trying to squash these cultures.

But amid these remarks, the Pope has also been criticized for the circus atmosphere he has inspired. Even though Pope Francis is known for being humbler than past popes – i.e. he once said he didn’t need bulletproof glass to cut him off from people – there was a carnival held in his honor on his first day in Mexico. And the extravagance continued from there.

“On Saturday, he was offered champurrado – a ritual often reserved for heads of state – before an auditorium, something similar to official government function,” wrote Raymundo Riva Palacio, who also described it as a spectacle. In his essay, Raymundo explains that the pope has been “kidnapped” and he doesn’t even realize it – alluding to the fact that the government has made it difficult for people to get their chance to see him.

“To go to a mass, people had to arrive 12 hours earlier so they could find a spot,” Raymundo wrote. “In Ecatepec, for example, people spent all that time without food or water, because security didn’t allow them to have them.”

And all they see is el Papa hobnobbing with people who have hurt them.