Photos of Everything but the Pope at a Papal Mass Near the Mexican Border

On February 17, as the Pope visited the border region of El Paso-Ciudad Juárez before returning to Rome, I shot a papal mass. My goal was to concentrate on the feeling of the day and not on the man who came into town.

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Feb 20 2016, 5:00am

I never actually took a photo of the Pope when he visited my home, the binational border region of El-Paso-Ciudad Juárez (also known as Paso del Norte).

But I don't think he would have wanted me to either. Not because I'm Jewish or left-handed. He would have wanted me to focus on the people and the spirit and the place of hope in our day to day lives. Because, well, that's what this Pope is about. The people. And hope.

Where I'm from, a little more hope couldn't hurt. Not after the cartel violence of years prior which left tens of thousands of people murdered and thousands more fleeing to El Paso and other cities. Not after the still-unsolved femicides, or the destructive xenophobic language coming from political circles in the United States, which mostly describes the border as a threat and never as an opportunity.

On February 17, as the Pope visited Juárez before returning to Rome, I shot a papal mass at El Punto, a space designed specifically for the mass that's also described as a "window into Mexico." I wanted to photograph the faces and people on this day of hope for a better tomorrow. I wanted to shoot something optimistic in our region. I concentrated on the feeling of the day and not on the man who came into town. I think he would have wanted it that way.

For more of Peter's work, visit his website here.