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Pope Francis reaches out to indigenous Mexicans

Published 16/02/2016

Pope Francis kisses a baby in San Cristobal de las Casas
Pope Francis kisses a baby in San Cristobal de las Casas
Pope Francis wears a crown of flowers, gifted to him by indigenous Mexicans
Pope Francis hugs a child during his visit to the Federico Gómez children's hospital in Mexico

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," Francis said. "We can no longer remain silent before one of the greatest environmental crises in world history."

"In this regard, you have much to teach us," he added, speaking at a sports complex in the mountain city of San Cristobal de las Casas.

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