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Pope Francis urges Mexicans to build nation free of “merchants of death”

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Pope Francis urged Mexicans on Sunday to reject the devil and build a nation free of “merchants of death” during an open-air mass with 300,000 people in a crime-ridden city.

The pontiff used the service in Ecatepec, a rough Mexico City suburb, to touch on two major themes of his trip to Mexico — drug violence and the plight of migrants.

The pope urged his flock to turn Mexico into a “land of opportunity,” where “there will be no need to emigrate in order to dream” and where they will “not have to mourn men and women, young people and children who are destroyed at the hands of the merchants of death.”

Ecatepec, a city of 1.6 million people, has become infamous for a spate of disappearances of women, whose bodies have turned up in abandoned lots or canals, prompting authorities to declare a “gender violence alert” last year.

The city lies in the populous state of Mexico, where some 600 women have been killed between January 2014 and September 2015, according to the non-governmental National Citizen Observatory of Femicides.

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