In an exclusive interview Wednesday, the second anniversary of his election to the papacy, Pope Francis spoke on a wide range of topics, many of which revolved around Mexico. He said that “the devil doesn’t forgive Mexico because there [the Virgin Mary] revealed her Son,” referring to the appearances of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
“This isn’t the first tough moment that Mexico has gone through,” he said. “It’s connected with holiness, right? Mexico has gone through times of religious persecution, when it gave birth to martyrs. I think the devil punishes Mexico fiercely.”
The Pope granted the one-on-one interview to veteran reporter Valentina Alazraki, the Vatican correspondent for the Mexican channel Televisa. The first half of the interview was released today, to be followed by the second half next week.
“Mexico,” said Francis, “is privileged in martyrdom, for recognizing and defending its Mother. And this you know very well. You will find Catholics, non-Catholics, and atheists in Mexico, but they are all ‘guadalupanos.’ That is, everyone feels like her child. Children of the one who brought the Savior, who destroyed the devil.”
Francis acknowledged that the current social situation in Mexico is dramatic, but said that blaming it all on one cause, like the government, is “childish.”
“I believe the devil has made Mexico pay, right? And so all these things happen. You see that all through history it has been a center of serious conflicts. Who is to blame? The government? That is the easy solution, the easy answer. Governments are always to blame. Yes, the government. But everyone is somehow at fault, at least for not taking care of the suffering.”
“I know it’s very difficult to report a drug dealer,” Francis said. “Because it’s throwing your life away, a kind of martyrdom, right? It’s hard, but I think in situations like this, whether in Mexico or somewhere else, we all have to do our part. So to blame one sector, one person, one group, is childish.”
The Pope also spoke about the reactions to the email message he sent to a friend, where he spoke of avoiding the “mexicanization” of Argentina.
“Obviously it’s a technical term,” he said. “It has nothing to do with the dignity of Mexico. Just as when we talk about ‘balkanization,’ the Serbs, the Macedonians and the Croats don’t get upset. So people talk about ‘balkanizing’ something and it’s used technically. The media have used it many times,” he said.
The Pope said that his expression had kicked up some dust but that he had read that a survey showed that 90% of Mexicans had not been offended by what he said. “I’m glad about that,” he said. “It would have been very painful if it had been interpreted in that way.”
Francis also shared some self-effacing humor, targeting his own country.
“We Argentineans aren’t humble,” he said. “We are very conceited.”
“Do you know how an Argentinian commits suicide?” the Pope asked, joking. “He climbs up his ego and then jumps off!”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.