The World

Mayan Mass

Pope Francis, left, greets the new archbishop of Tuxtla Gutierrez (Mexico), Fabio Martinez Castilla, on June 29, 2013, at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. 

Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

This has gotten less attention than some of Pope Francis’ other initiatives but seems fairly indicative of the church’s new emphasis on developing countries:

Over the past seven years, the Diocese of San Cristobal - one of the oldest in the country - has led the calls for the Vatican to officially recognise the liturgy in Mayan languages.

That call was heeded in October when Pope Francis gave the green light for weekly mass and key Catholic rituals, such as confession and baptism, to be conducted in the two indigenous languages.

Mass will now be offered in Tzotzil and Tzeltal, a key change in Mexico’s Chiapas state, where about 65 percent of the population speaks a first language other than Spanish and many speak little Spanish at all.