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Pope’s visit should raise Mexico’s spirits

March 22, 2012

Anticipation is building ahead of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Mexico next weekend, which promises to be a grand occasion for the world’s second largest Catholic population.

Visiting Guanajuato from March 23 to 26, the Pope is expected to deliver a message of peace and unity, offering hope and a sense of release to a nation beset by well documented security problems.

Under the name “Voices of Mexico,” a group of young people released a video this week welcoming the Catholic leader to Mexico. The film features messages from athletes, politicians, television stars and businessmen stressing the importance of the papal visit.

Among those interviewed are gymnast Cynthia Valdez, golfer Lorena Ochoa, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez’s grandfather Tomas Balcazar and Jalisco Governor Emilio Gonzalez, along with his counterparts from Durango and Morelos.

“This is for Catholics and non Catholics. We wanted to welcome the Pope because he always brings a message of peace, friendship, tolerance and unity and that fits well with Mexico,” said group founder Rodrigo Sola, before dismissing any opposition to the papal visit: “those who question the Pope’s visit are a minority, we love that he is coming.”

Mexico’s presidential candidates will be invited to the Pope’s celebration of Mass, but will not speak with him in any private meeting, the Vatican announced this week.

Benedict will meet only with President Felipe Calderon, Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinoza and Secretary of the Interior Alejandro Poire for a brief, 20-minute chat in Guanajuato’s Casa del Conde Rul on March 24.

“We are in an election period, so he has to respect the laws of the country. Candidates may not be invited to such events. They will receive an invitation to participate in the Mass, but there is no meeting with the Holy Father, that’s obvious,” said the Papal Nuncio in Mexico, Christophe Pierre.

POPE BENEDICT XVI’s FULL SCHEDULE

Friday, March 23
4:30 p.m. Welcoming ceremony at the Guanajuato Airport.

Saturday, March 24

8 a.m. Private Holy Mass in the Chapel of Colegio Miraflores.
6 p.m. Courtesy visit to the Mexican president in the House of Conde Rul in Guanajuato.
6:45 p.m. Greeting with children gathered at Plaza de la Paz in Guanajuato.

Sunday, March 25

10 a.m. Holy Mass at Parque del Bicentenario. Recitation of the Angelus Domini.
6 p.m. Celebration of Vespers with the Bishops of Mexico and Latin America in the Cathedral Madre Santisima de la Luz de Leon.

Monday, March 26

9 a.m. Farewell Ceremony at the Guanajuato Airport.

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