The Cable

Watch Pope Francis Honor Migrants at the U.S./Mexico Border

Pope Francis placed flowers at the foot of a cross at the U.S./Mexico border to honor those who died trying to cross it.

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Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has called Mexicans who enter the United States illegally “rapists” who bring “drugs,” “crime,” and “lots of problems.” He’s pledged to build a wall, paid for by Mexico, to keep them out. On Wednesday afternoon, just three days before the presidential primary in South Carolina, Pope Francis delivered a powerful counter to Trump’s harsh rhetoric with a simple gesture.

Prior to conducting mass in the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez on Wednesday, Francis laid flowers and prayed at the foot of a raised cross erected at the U.S./Mexico border. His actions were meant to honor the estimated 6,000 migrants who have died crossing it since 2000; as recently as 2010, Juarez was the murder capital of the world. Here’s a video:

Francis made a similar gesture in 2013, when he threw a wreath into the Mediterranean Sea from the island of Lampedusa, Italy, in memory of refugees who have drowned attempting to reach Europe.

Francis spent much of his six-day visit to Mexico calling for more to be done to help refugees, a common theme during his time as the head of Catholic Church. He did the same during a visit to the United States last year, telling a joint session of Congress to show more compassion.

“We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners,” the pope told U.S. lawmakers in September 2015.

Francis’s support for immigrants, and his trip through Mexico, has drawn the attention of Trump, who leads by a large margin in South Carolina. The billionaire businessman told Fox News earlier this week that the pope doesn’t understand “the danger of the open border that we have with Mexico… I think Mexico got him to do it because they want to keep the border just the way it is. They’re making a fortune, and we’re losing.”

Pope Francis is popular among Catholics; 50 percent of American Catholics had a more positive view of the church after his visit last year. But while he has preached a message of tolerance and campaigned against church opulence, he’s done little to change its conservative stance on issues like gay marriage — the church still opposes it.

The pope’s upbeat mood Wednesday at the mass — he smiled widely as he entered the fairgrounds — was a far cry from Tuesday, when the pontiff became visibly angry after being pulled into the lap of a person in a wheelchair in the city of Morelia. You can see his reaction below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07UmD4y5J6E

Photo Credit: Mark Ralston/Getty Images

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