Cardinal Arizmendi: New Year with Hope

Let’s start this year 2024 with the aim of building our country in justice, peace and fraternity

Cardinal Felipe Arizmendi, bishop emeritus of San Cristóbal de Las Casas and responsible for the Doctrine of Faith at the Conference of the Mexican Episcopate (CEM), offers Exaudi readers his weekly article titled “New Year with Hope.”



Without ignoring the serious problems of the country and the world, many good people encourage our hope. Not everything is lost!

For example, there are families with limited resources who, on the occasion of Christmas and New Year, or ordinary days, prepare food and give it away on street corners to people who earn a living selling something there. They do the same in hospitals, with relatives of patients who suffer many hardships. A niece of mine, when one of her teenage sons had a birthday, took him to give away food in some corners of our city. This is very encouraging and educational. With these families, we are doing well!

Faced with the thousands of migrants who pass among us, longing to reach the United States, there are Catholic and Protestant organizations, and many people from civil society, who share as much as they can with them. It is true that we are overwhelmed, because now there are many; even the government is overwhelmed; but many do what they can to help with food, water, shelter, medicine and humanitarian care. These people save the country!

On the occasion of the recent Christmas holidays, many families lived together, exchanged gifts, prayed, participated in the liturgical celebrations, and even invited someone who had no one to enjoy these dates with. Many Mexicans residing in the United States returned to their community to share with their families and strengthen their roots. How much are these families worth!

In the communities of my region, the government has deployed soldiers and police in large numbers, to preserve social peace, after the events of Texcapilla, where the peasants defended themselves from the criminal group that extorted them. They have dismantled facilities of their falcons, forced or hired young people who warn criminals that the army is approaching, so that they hide and the military have the impression that the region is at peace. It is not a definitive solution, because these groups continue to operate in other communities, as they are very organized. More intelligence systems are needed to detect them and take away the strength they currently have, given the heavy weapons they possess. Something is being done to restore peace in the region!

During the liturgical celebrations that I presided over, many people participated. The parents and grandparents brought the children, and there is no shortage of young people who are also committed to their parish. Many women give services both at the altar and by bringing Holy Communion to the sick and elderly. They are living parish communities, which encourage us in hope!

Nine farmers from my town organized to improve their production of manzano chili (spicy) and export it to the United States. They are paid in dollars, and they have done very well. Other brothers from the same family, whose parents raised them with great sacrifice, trained and produce top quality flowers, such as orchids, and sell them in many places in the country, even exporting them. Community and family organization leaves very good dividends.  It is possible!


The Mexican episcopate, in the Global Pastoral Project 2031+2033, says: “We are happy, and thank God for the gift of the family in our Mexican people. This human reality continues to be a reason for hope because it constitutes the fundamental place where true citizens and Christians are formed for our country. How much good it makes us see the fidelity, the dedication, the daily work, the love of father and mother, grandmothers, uncles and single mothers raising and educating their children” (49).

“Without denying that the human heart harbors desires for power and violence, selfish attitudes and complicity with evil, we affirm original goodness and the capacity for conversion. We believe in freedom and human responsibility as a gift from God and that, sustained by his grace and the strength of his Spirit, they enable us to do good, opening ourselves to generosity and dedication. We recognize that there are many more daily gestures of compassion and solidarity that are carried out in the hidden depths of Christian families and communities. All of them are signs of Redemption and encourage hope” (132).

“We thank God for this Mexican nation to which we love and proudly belong; We value the great qualities that we have as a people: family, young, supportive, inclusive, helpful, religious, theological, hard-working, welcoming, festive, evangelizing, indigenous and mestizo. It is here where the Lord wants to express his merciful love and his closeness through his Church and proclaim with our announcement and testimony that there is hope and that we must lift our hearts. We want to show that hope is our certainty and our path and remember that, throughout history, our people have known how to overcome difficult moments from which they have emerged stronger” (168).

“Our view of reality is permeated by the certain hope that we do not walk alone. It is true that the strengths and miseries of our lives have to do with the fragility of our decisions, but also and primarily with the faithful God who, in his Son, our Redeemer, drives us forward to lead us to the fullness of his Kingdom.  Saint John Paul II stated with determination in Redemptor Hominis: ‘The fundamental and essential answer… the only direction of the understanding, the will and the heart is for us this: Jesus Christ, Redeemer of man; Christ, Redeemer of the world. We want to look to Him, because only in Him, Son of God, is there salvation, renewing Peter’s statement Lord, to whom would we go? You have words of eternal life” ´  (91).


Grounded in Jesus Christ, let us begin this year 2024 with the aim of building our country in justice, peace and fraternity. It’s possible! There are many good people! With these feelings and my prayer, I wish you a new year full of hope.