"Welcome to Morelia," the crowd spelled out in Spanish with their bodies, beneath a human portrait of the pontiff, in the Michoacan state capital.
"What temptation can come to us from places often dominated by violence, corruption, drug trafficking, disregard for human dignity, and indifference in the face of suffering and vulnerability?" Francis said during a service in the city.
The pope has spoken strongly on the issues during his six-day visit to Mexico -- his first to the Central American nation. He has also criticized authorities for failing to address corruption and highlighted the plight of indigenous people.
“Many of us have suffered extortion, and many have suffered the loss of loved ones due to drug violence,” Karla Martinez, 25, told The New York Times at the Mass in Morelia. “For [Pope Francis] to come here, it’s like saying that we’re not alone.”
The production and trade of narcotics in Michoacan has led to rampant gang violence and extortion. The city is the birthplace of La Familia Michoacana, one of Mexico's most notorious drug cartels, known for its brutal violence and kidnappings.
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