Pope Francis’ compassion encourages gay Catholics to celebrate his presence on the border

One El Pasoan who is super excited by Pope Francis’ visit this week to Juarez, is 19-year-old UTEP student Gilbert Lopez, a practicing Catholic who is gay. He credits this pope and his compassionate words and attitude toward homosexuals for motivating him to come out as a gay teenager. “When I was not accepting of my sexuality, when I would come in contact with homosexuals, it was either you’re religious or you’re not,” said Lopez, who considers himself a devout Catholic and is a member of his church choir. “A lot of times people who are homosexual aren’t religious because of the way people talk about it. They get discouraged,” he said.

7 essential apps for border residents during the pope’s visit

These seven free apps can help make life easier for people in the Borderlands when Pope Francis visits Juarez on Feb. 17. Best All-in-One Catholic app
Catholic Mega App

This is your best bet if you want the most information in one spot. This app links you to the Eternal Word Television Network which provides live streaming of all papal events, along with commentary as the events are happening. The app also includes links social media profiles for the pope.

Juarez booked up for pope, but El Paso hotels still have rooms

EL PASO — The “Two Nations, One Faith” visit from Pope Francis to Cd. Juarez has brought national attention to the border region, but not a lot of travelers looking for a place to stay in El Paso. The Catholic Diocese of Juarez is expecting 220,000 people to attend the Mass celebrated by the pope on Wednesday. Thousands more are expected to line the streets of Juarez hoping to catch a glimpse of the pontiff. And, one the other side of the border in El Paso, thousands are planning to receive a blessing from the pope while attending a simulcast of the papal Mass in the Sun Bowl on the UT El Paso campus.

Immigrant advocates hope pope’s Mexico trip opens border dialogue

As Juarez, Mexico prepares for a visit from Pope Francis on Feb 17th, advocates for immigrants in nearby El Paso see this as an opportunity to promote the message that migrants need to be treated with love and compassion instead of having doors shut in their faces. Noting that the pope is coming to Juarez to highlight the plight of immigrants, Melissa Lopez, the Executive Director of the Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services expects that this will open a dialogue about migration on the border. “I hope his visit highlights that people have rational issues for migrating to the U.S, it’s not a decision that’s made lightly or easily,” she said. “I hope he brings a voice for the most compassionate. And at the end of the day, God calls us to love people regardless of their immigration status.”

Another El Paso group, Las Americas Advocacy Immigrant Advocacy Center, has been helping asylum seekers who have traveled from as far as Cameroon and Central America by providing them legal representation.

Non-Catholics share views about pope’s border visit

EL PASO — In a region where the majority of the population is Catholic, news of Pope Francis’ visit to Cd. Juarez on Wednesday has brought a lot of excitement since it was announced back in December. But among non-Catholics it is still just Wednesday. Jehovah Witnesses Claudia A. Bernal and her mother, also named Claudia, said they don’t have plans to follow any of the pope-related events since they don’t share the same beliefs, but they also don’t feel any opposition to the celebration. “We are respectful about the pope’s visit,” said the elder Claudia Bernal.

Disminuye el número de católicos en Cd. Juárez

CD. JUAREZ — Pese a que la religión católica sigue siendo la que más se profesa aquí, el número de católicos ha disminuido considerablemente en los últimos años. Esta ciudad fronteriza cuenta con una población de 1.3 millones y el 69 por ciento se consideran católicos, pero de acuerdo con el Instituto Nacional de Estadística Geográfica e Informática (INEGI), la religión católica ha decaído en Juárez. Hace apenas 10 años, un 82 por ciento de la población profesaba ser católica. Según María Olivares quien lleva abrazando la religión católica desde hace 50 años, esto se debe a los escándalos por los cuales ha pasado la iglesia católica.

Juarez prison workers expect pope’s visit to have lasting impact on inmates

When Pope Francis arrives in the borderlands on Wednesday to celebrate afternoon Mass before thousands at a freshly built altar and pavilion called “El Punto” on the old Juarez fairgrounds, the pontiff will also make a stop at the Cereso state prison to visit several hundreds prisoners and their families. The prison, known as the Centro de Readaptación Social para Adultos No. 3, has a reputation as a rough facility for hardened criminals and in the past has experienced several riots and killings. On Wednesday, a group of Cereso prisoners will greet “el Papa” with a special song when he arrives at the prison doors at about 10:30 a.m. It is his first stop along a 25-mile human chain leading from the Juarez airport to the site of the Mass at El Punto. As in his visits to prisons in previous tours of U.S. cities like Philadelphia, Pope Francis is expected to bring a message of love, hope and forgiveness to the Cereso inmates and their families.

Las maquiladoras de Juárez no están obligadas a dar un día feriado para la visita del Papa

CD. JUAREZ – Se esperaba que todas las dependencias de gobierno y de la industria maquiladora tendrían el 17 de febrero libre para celebrar la visita del Papa Francisco, pero ahora la organización encargada de coordinar las 360 maquiladoras dice que no es un día feriado para los 260,000 empleados del sector. Algunas han optado en dar el día 17 libre a cambio por otro día feriado. Otras han decidido seguir abiertas como cualquier día normal de trabajo. La Asociación Mexicana de Actuarios Consultores, organización que se encarga de coordinar las empresas maquiladoras, ha decidido que el día de la visita del Papa no es un día feriado para los empleado, sino que es decision de cada empresa dar el día a sus trabajadores para que ellos tengan la oportunidad de atender a la misa masiva.

Volunteers practice linking to form human wall for pope's visit

Thousands of El Pasoans, Juarenses link up to create human chain along pope’s route

JUAREZ — El Paso resident Rafael Sañedo, 21, drove cautiously down several Juarez city streets on a recent Sunday as he headed toward San Lorenzo Plaza to rehearse his part in the 25-mile-long human chain that will greet Pope Frances when he arrives in Juarez Wednesday to deliver a historic Mass at the old Juarez Fairgrounds, called El Punto. “Juarez has changed a lot throughout the years,” said Sañedo, a pet store employee, who has not crossed an international bridge from his home in El Paso into Ciudad Juarez for the last decade. The last time he visited Juarez was to see his grandmother before she died. “She was the only reason why we even came, so after she passed away there was no reason for me to come back,” he said. Several weeks ago Sañedo had a change of heart when, after attending Mass at Saint Mark Catholic Church in east El Paso, he heard an announcement asking for volunteers to help form a human wall, referred to as lLa Valla.

El Papa cierra escuelas de la frontera para su historica visita

El 17 de febrero, dia de la visita papal, los distritos escolares de El Paso, Ysleta, Socorro y San Elizario suspenderán clases como medida de seguridad para sus alumnos. Ademas quieren ofrecer la oportunidad de participar en las actividades de este acontecimiento histórico si así se desea. La Universidad de Texas en El Paso (UTEP) y los campus del Colegio de la Comunidad (EPCC) se unen a estos cierres. En el caso de UTEP, la clausura temporal de los salones de clase se debe a que el estadio Sun Bowl será la sede de un evento religioso que agrupara a más de 50 mil personas. Sin embargo, no todas las entidades educativas cancelan clases ese día.