February 22, 2016

ECATEPEC, MEXICO - Pope Francis spent his Sunday visiting an overcrowded, sprawling settlement widely known as a hunting ground for girls to force into prostitution and for boys to enlist in the drug trade.

Ecatepec, on the northern edge of Mexico City, also has tidy gated communities and a new shopping mall with department stores like Sears, WalMart, Starbucks and dozens of other shops and restaurants.

More than 1.7 million people live in Ecatepec, which Vatican Radio described as "a lawless neighbourhood where organized crime, pollution and poverty reign and where most people fear to tread."


In his Feb. 14 homily, Pope Francis said the idea of "a society of the few and for the few" is a work of the devil.

"We have chosen Jesus, not the evil one!" he said. "Let's get this straight in our heads: You can't dialogue with the devil."

Preaching on Jesus being tempted in the desert, the pope said, "Jesus does not respond to the devil with his own words, instead he uses the words of God, the words of Scripture.

"You cannot dialogue with the devil because he will always win," he insisted. "Only the power of the word of God can defeat him."


Lent, the pope said, is a time of conversion, which involves acknowledging each day how the devil tries to tempt and divide people.

The sinful use of money and material things, he said, is "seizing hold of goods destined for all and using them only for 'my own people.'"

It involves living off the sweat and labour of others, "even at the expense of their very lives," the pope said.

The Church gives us the gift of the Lenten season so we can be converted from the temptations of wealth, fame and power, he said.