On Wednesday, Pope Francis unleashed another aspect of his complex public persona: The disappointed prophet who excoriates world powers for mistreating the poor and marginalized.
Celebrating Mass in Ciudad Juarez, a city just across the border from the United States, Francis delivered a stinging critique of leaders on both sides of the fence, calling the “forced migration” of thousands of Central Americans a “human tragedy” and “humanitarian crisis”. … “Injustice is radicalized in the young,” the Pope said during his homily before a congregation of more than 200,000 people. “They are ‘cannon fodder,’ persecuted and threatened when they try to flee the spiral of violence and the hell of drugs.”
The Bible readings at the Mass told the story of Jonah, another angry prophet. The Bible passages set up the Pope to blister injustices in Mexico and indifference in the United States, casting both countries as modern-day Ninevehs. “Go and tell them that injustice has infected their way of seeing the world,” the Pope said, describing Jonah’s mission to rouse the city of Nineveh from the morass of moral decay. “Go and help them to understand that by the way they treat each other, ordering and organizing themselves, they are only creating death and destruction, suffering and oppression.”
It was a grand geopolitical gesture from the Pope’s political playbook, mirroring his prayer at the wall separating Palestinian territories and Israel in 2014. It also thrust Francis into the polarized debates over immigration in both the United States and Mexico.