As Pope Francis visits Mexico, Catholics there are hoping he will speak out on the issues of abortion, same-sex "marriage," the ever-growing murder rate and the loss of faith in the country.
Jaime Duarte, Director of the Center for Research on New Age, said, "Mexico today, as ever, [has] an endless trail of pain, blood and death ... . The Pope could give us encouragement, hope ... to ensure [the sanctity of] human life."
Statistics show that since 2007, when Mexico City legalized abortion up to 12 weeks, more than 150,000 abortions have taken place there. The country also has the third largest number of fatalities in the world owing to armed conflict, after Syria and Iraq: Between 2007 and 2014, more than 164,000 civilians have been killed in Mexico, compared to 103,000 deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The nation also suffers a severe moral crisis, with indifference towards religion, a progressive loss of faith, the tarnished image of Catholic clergy, as well as the growing New Age movement. Mexican Catholics also point to human trafficking, corruption and poverty, tying all of this to an extreme loss of Catholic faith.
According to the National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics, the percentage of Catholics in Mexico fell from 98.2 percent in 1950 to 82.7 percent in 2010, and continues to decline at an increasing rate, owing mostly to young people leaving the Faith.
Crime has also grown significantly from 2014–2015. Duarte says that “for almost a decade here, both the womb and the streets ... are no longer safe for anyone.”
It's againt this socio-political, cultural and economic background that Mexico welcomes Pope Francis to the country. The Holy Father himself has stirred up controversy over the issue of immigration, as well as plans to say Mass at the U.S.-Mexico border.
His visit also comes during a rash of recent kidnappings and murders of Catholic priests. Since 2005, 36 priests in Mexico have been assassinated, and two priests have disappeared.
But through all of this, Mexican Catholics remain hopeful that Pope Francis will speak forcefully on these issues and help bring about a restoration of the Faith in the country.
Duarte said he hopes "it will be ... Pope Francisco who motivate[s] us and ... awaken[s] us from the morass, calls us to live mercy, quickens our hope ... [helps us to] remember that without Christ we can do nothing."