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Women, African Americans, disadvantaged and abused youth: Pope says you will be bearers of hope

Le pape François se recueille devant l'image miraculeuse de Notre-Dame de Guadalupe le 13 février à l'issue de la messe célébrée dans la basilique du sanctuaire (Mexico, Mexique) © Osservatore Romano via AFP
This image released by the Vatican shows Pope Francis celebrating mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a major Catholic shrine, on February 13, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico. == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE / MANDATORY CREDIT: "AFP PHOTO / HO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO" / NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS / DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ==
The basilica houses the image of a dark-skinned, or "morenita," Virgin Mary that Catholics believe miraculously became imprinted on a piece of fabric after she appeared before an indigenous peasant in 1531. == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE / MANDATORY CREDIT: "AFP PHOTO / HO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO" / NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS / DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS == / AFP / AFP AND Osservatore Romano / Osservatore Romano
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Many are those shamed like Elizabeth or like Juan Diego, but Our Lady is choosing them ...

If you are a member of one of the following groups, Pope Francis has a message for you today, that comes from God, through his Mother:

-Indigenous or African American communities, who are not treated equally and whose dignity is not respected

-Women who are excluded because they are women, or because of their race or their socioeconomic status

-Young people who don’t have opportunities for a good education and are unable to get good jobs and start a family

-The poor, unemployed, migrants, displaced, traveling farm workers

-Boys and girls forced into prostitution, linked so often to sex trafficking

This was the line-up of the oppressed that Pope Francis mentioned in his homily this evening for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, comparing all of them to Elizabeth who suffered under the weight of infertility in a time when that condition was a sign of shame.

He compared them to Juan Diego, too, who was one of these little ones, as he told Our Lady herself: “I’m really not worth anything,” the chosen one of the Virgin of Guadalupe said to the Lady from Heaven.

But what happened to sterile Elizabeth and to “worthless” Juan Diego? What can happen to each of these little ones brought to our attention today by Pope Francis in his homily on today’s feast?

“The one who couldn’t have children carried in her womb the precursor of Salvation,” the pope said. “In her, we understand that the dream of God is not and will not be sterility, nor stigmatizing nor filling his children with shame. Instead, it is to make spring up in them and from them a song of blessing.

“We see the same in Juan Diego. It was him, and not anyone else, who would carry the image of the Virgin on his tilma. … the mother capable of taking on the features of her children to make them feel a part of her blessing.”

From this mother, Pope Francis affirmed, “we want to learn to be a Church with a mestizo face, with an indigenous, African American, or peasant face. A face of the least ones, of workers. A poor face, an unemployed face, of a boy or a girl, an elderly or a young person, so that no one feels sterile or fruitless, so that no one feels ashamed or insignificant. But on the contrary, so that each one feels like Elizabeth and Juan Diego — that he is the bearer of a promise, of hope, and can say from his depths, ‘Abba, that is, Father.’”

For Latin America, the Successor of Peter gave this reflection a concrete application, calling for a brave defense against “attempts to homogenize which end up imposing — under attractive slogans — a single way of thinking, being, feeling, living, which end up making invalid or sterile what has been inherited from our elders; which end up making especially young people feel insignificant because of belonging to this or that culture. Truly, our fruitfulness demands of us to defend our peoples from an ideological colonization that cancels out their richness, whether that be indigenous, African American, mestizo, agricultural or suburban.”

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