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Pope Francis Scolds Overeager Crowd After He's Jostled In Mexico

Some of the hands reaching out to touch Pope Francis during his visit to Morelia, Mexico, became too forceful Tuesday, yanking the pontiff off-balance and drawing a stern look from the normally easygoing pontiff.

Francis' neck had already been pulled at when he stooped over to greet a disabled girl at an event that focused on young Catholics. Then, as he shook hands along a line of the faithful, he was pulled at again, causing him to pitch forward.

"No seas egoista! No seas egoista! (Don't be selfish! Don't be selfish!)" Pope Francis said, raising his hand to emphasize his point, according to Mexico's El Universal, which posted video of what it calls "the first mishap of the pontiff on his visit."

Francis admonished those pulling on his sleeve in a voice loud enough to be heard over music that was blaring from loudspeakers. He spoke as his security detail, which had been flanking him, helped to pull him upright.

The incident occurred on a day when Francis urged tens of thousands of young people to value themselves — and to have hope:

"You are the wealth of Mexico, you are the wealth of the Church. I understand that often it is difficult to feel your value when you are continually exposed to the loss of friends or relatives at the hands of the drug trade, of drugs themselves, of criminal organizations that sow terror.

"It is hard to feel the wealth of a nation when there are no opportunities for dignified work, no possibilities for study or advancement, when you feel your rights are being trampled on, which then leads you to extreme situations. It is difficult to appreciate the value of a place when, because of your youth, you are used for selfish purposes, seduced by promises that end up being untrue.

"Nonetheless, despite all this, I will never tire of saying, You are the wealth of Mexico."

Before Francis leaves Mexico tonight, he will visit Ciudad Juárez — and the wall along the U.S. border that separates the city from El Paso, Texas.

His plan to visit the area has drawn criticism from presidential candidate Donald Trump, who told Fox Business, "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."

In response, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi is quoted by The Associated Press as saying:

"The pope always talks about migration problems all around the world, of the duties we have to solve these problems in a humane manner, of hosting those who come from other countries in search of a life of dignity and peace."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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