Pope celebrates culture of Mexico's indigenous people
Pope Francis has denounced the centuries-old exploitation and social exclusion of Mexico's indigenous people.
The pontiff celebrated Mexico's Indians during a visit to the southern state of Chiapas, a centre of indigenous culture, where he presided over a Mass in three native languages, thanks to a new Vatican decree approving their use in liturgy.
In his homily, history's first Latin American pope melded two of his core concerns: appreciation for indigenous cultures of the Americas and the need to care for the environment.
"The environmental challenge that we are experiencing and its human causes affects us all and demands our response," Pope Francis said.
"We can no longer remain silent before one of the greatest environmental crises in world history," he added, under clear blue skies at a sports complex in the mountain city of San Cristobal de las Casas.
Crowds chanted "Francis friend, San Cristobal is with you," as he arrived.
The visit - at the midway mark of the pontiff's five-day trip to Mexico - is also aimed at boosting the faith in the least Catholic state in Mexico. Pope Francis has already issued a sweeping apology for the Catholic Church's colonial-era crimes against indigenous people in Latin America.
Yesterday, he was celebrating their culture in ways the local church hierarchy has often sought to play down, in a clear demonstration of his belief that Indians have an important role to play in Mexico today.