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Pope Francis discusses mistreatment of Native people in Mexico

A large crowd greeted Pope Francis in Chipas, Mexico, on February 15, 2016. Photo by Beto Guzman / Twitter

Pope Francis urged followers to seek forgiveness from indigenous people on Monday but otherwise did not offer a direct apology for centuries of mistreatment, land theft and other abuses.

Francis delivered a mass in San Cristobal de Las Casas, a town located in Chiapas, a Mexican state known for its indigenous culture and activism. He acknowledged that Native people have been "misunderstood and excluded from society" in a "systematic and organized way."

"Some have considered your values, culture and traditions to be inferior," the pope said in his remarks, according to the transcript from the Vatican. "Others, intoxicated by power, money and market trends, have stolen your lands or contaminated them. How sad this is!"

Pope Francis repeated a phrase in a Mayan language during his mass and even compared the teachings of the Catholic Church to those found in the Popol Vuh, the Maya creation story. But while he encouraged followers to respect indigenous culture he did not directly offer an apology to indigenous people on behalf the church.

The six-day journey through Mexico concludes on Wednesday with a mass in Juarez, a city near the U.S.-Mexico border. As part of the Two Nations One Faith cross-border event, a dance group from the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, also known as the Tigua Tribe, will perform.

Pope Francis, who is from Argentina, made his first visit to the United States last September and included members of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe from California during a mass in Washington, D.C. He did not directly address the church's mistreatment of Native Americans during that trip either.

Get the Story:
Pope Francis' symbolic celebration of indigenous Mexican culture (Vatican Radio 2/15)
Pope tells indigenous Mexicans the world needs their culture and values (Vatican Radio 2/15)
Pope denounces exploitation of Mexico’s indigenous people (AP 2/15)
Pope Francis preaches to marginalized indigenous in a fight to keep Catholics (The Washington Post 2/15)
At Mass, Pope Francis Embraces ‘Misunderstood’ of Mexico (The New York Times 2/16)

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