Pope Francis authorizes use of three Mexican indigenous languages in mass

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  Feb. 16, 2016 at 10:21 AM
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MEXICO CITY, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Pope Francis presented a decree to Mexico's indigenous peoples officially allowing the use of three native languages in the country to be used during mass.

During the presentation, the pope asked for forgiveness over how Mexico's indigenous have been excluded from society.

"Sorry. Sorry, brothers," Francis said in Spanish while celebrating Mass on Monday at the San Cristobal de las Casas church in Mexico's Chiapas state.

"On many occasions, in a systematic and organized way, your people have been misunderstood and excluded from society," Francis said after reading from an ancient Mayan text, the Popol Vuh. "Some have considered your values, culture and traditions to be inferior. Others, intoxicated by power, money and market trends, have stolen your lands or contaminated them. How sad this is.

"How worthwhile it would be for each of us to examine our conscience and learn to say, 'Forgive me!'" Francis added.

The pope presented to the audience a Vatican decree authorizing use of the indigenous Tzeltal, Tzotzil and Chol languages, which were spoken aloud during biblical readings and hymns.

Although Mexico is predominantly Roman Catholic -- about 82 percent of the total population -- Chiapas is the least Catholic state with about 58 percent belonging to the church.

Indigenous representatives offered copies of the Bible to Francis in the Tzeltal, Tzotzil and Chol languages.

"Many thanks for recently authorizing the service of the permanent indigenous diaconate with its own culture, with its own signs of each of the peoples of indigenous men and women, for approving the use in the liturgy and ritual of the mass in our languages, as we understand and listen to what God wants us to communicate and speak each in our own language," an indigenous representative said.

Francis on Tuesday was expected to travel to the Michoacán state, which is blighted by drug violence. He will conclude his five-day trip to Mexico in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, where he will deliver a mass focused on the plight of migrants on Wednesday.

Francis met with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Krill in Havana, Cuba, ahead of his trip to Mexico.

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