• World Politics

6 key moments from Pope Francis’s trip to Mexico

by Michelle Hackman

Pope Francis waves from the popemobile on his way to attend the Via Crucis on Copacabana Beach during World Youth Day celebrations on July 26, 2013, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Pope Francis, the first pontiff to hail from the Americas, is wrapping up a six-day swing through Mexico, the second-most-populous Catholic nation. He has designed his trip to hit many of the major stops migrants make on their way north to the Mexico-US border. From the state of Chiapas, where Central Americans first arrive in Mexico; through Michoacán, a source of Mexican immigrants to the US fleeing from intense gang violence; and finally to Ciudad Juárez, a gateway city that hugs the border.

In case you haven’t been following along, here are a few key moments from his trip, highlighting the unique focus on social justice this pope has taken.

The pope visited an indigenous church in southern Mexico, breaking with Vatican tradition

During one of the early stops of his trip, Pope Francis visited the southern state of Chiapas, a state with a heavily indigenous population. The region’s churches blend Catholicism with elements of Mayan spirituality, such as the use of pine boughs and eggs, into a Mass that the Catholic Church has long bristled at.

But not so with Francis, who presented one of these churches with a decree authorizing the use of indigenous languages during Mass.

"I ask you to show singular tenderness in the way you regard indigenous peoples and their fascinating but not infrequently decimated cultures,’’ Francis told Mexico’s bishops ahead of the visit.

The pope told children: Jesus does not want you to be "hit men"

Midway through his trip, Pope Francis traveled to the western state of Michoacán, which in recent years has been ravaged by gang wars over the methamphetamine trade. While there, during a stop at a stadium in the state’s capital city, Morelia, the pope implored young people to resist the allure of easy money by joining the drug trade.

"It is a lie to believe that the only way to live, or to be young, is to entrust oneself to drug dealers or others who do nothing but sow destruction and death," he told the crowd. "Jesus would never ask us to be hit men."

His plea struck an uncomfortable tone — most Mexican children don’t choose gang violence, but some are forced into it because of devastating poverty and crippling social pressure. But during the same speech, Francis took a swipe at Mexican authorities for failing to better provide young people with employment or other basic services.

"It is hard to feel the wealth of a nation when there are no opportunities for dignified work, no possibilities for study or advancement, when you feel your rights are being trampled on, which then leads you to extreme situations," he said.

The pope lost his cool after someone tripped him in a crowd

For a pope who has made something of a brand of his everyman lifestyle, this mishap overshadowed the overarching tenor of his trip. Francis was making his way through a crowd of greeters after his speech in Morelia when a man grabbed his hand and did not let go. The clinging worshiper ended up knocking the pope down — onto a young woman using a wheelchair.

Pope Francis regained his balance with the help of a security guard, but the look on his face was fierce.

"No seas egoista! No seas egoista! [Don't be selfish! Don't be selfish!]" a video caught Pope Francis loudly scolding the overeager worshiper.

The pope visited a prison

The last stop on Francis’s six-day swing brought him to Ciudad Juárez, a border city in the north directly across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. Francis paid a visit to Cereso state prison No. 3, where he addressed a group of 760 inmates chosen to participate in the event.

Though Francis has visited prisons in the past, the location of this visit was particularly potent: From 2008 to 2010, Ciudad Juárez had the highest rate of murders of any city in the world. Many of the city’s residents are still reeling from a spate of gang violence and murders of women that kept many too frightened to leave their homes.

"The problem of security is not resolved only by incarcerating. Rather, it calls us to intervene by confronting the structural and cultural causes of insecurity that impact the entire social framework," he told the inmates during their gathering. He urged them to help make Mexico a place where it is safe "to dream," in the hopes that one day, so many Mexicans wouldn’t feel the urgency to flee north.

The pope will celebrate Mass on the US-Mexico border

While in Ciudad Juárez, Pope Francis will also celebrate Mass at a spot hardly 300 feet from the fence marking the US-Mexico border, and will walk right up to its edge in a potent political statement.

While there, he is expected to pray for asylum seekers in the United States and give a blessing for those who died trying.

The pope’s Mass will be simulcast in El Paso, though more than 200,000 people are expected to cross the border to witness the real thing in Mexico.

Francis has made the plight of migrants a centerpiece of his papacy, most prominently urging European leaders to take in migrants displaced from their homes in the Middle East and Africa. On this trip, the pope has spoken for the need to end drug violence driving people to head north without authorization.

It’s a message that hasn’t resonated well with Republicans in the US, who see securing the border as a top priority and who are irritated that the pope mentioned the border in a political context during his speech to Congress in September.

In response to claims from Donald Trump that the pope was bribed to make the visit by the Mexican government, the Vatican said in a statement, "The pope always talks about migration problems all around the world, of the duties we have to solve these problems in a humane manner, of hosting those who come from other countries in search of a life of dignity and peace."

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Pope Francis says situation at U.S.-Mexico border is 'serious problem'

In an interview with Telemundo, a U.S.-based Spanish-language television network, Pope Francis was asked about the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, about Ukraine, about abortion and about his accomplishments in the 10 years of his papacy.

Justin McLellan

Pope Francis waves at a participant during a meeting of Scholas Occurentes, an educational initiative, held at the Augustinianum Institute for Patristic Studies in Rome May 25, 2023. Julian Vaqueiro, a Telemundo journalist seen in front holding a microphone, was the event's master of ceremonies, and spoke with Pope Francis in an interview released May 25. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis called the migration crisis between Mexico and the United States a "serious problem" and praised a U.S. bishop working along the border during an interview with Telemundo journalist Julio Vaqueiro.

In the interview, broadcast May 25, the pope was shown photos of a baby wrapped in a blanket and placed inside a suitcase to be taken across the Rio Grande into the United States.

"It's a serious problem there," the pope said in response. "On the other side (of the border) there is a great man, Bishop Seitz" of El Paso, Texas.

"This bishop feels (the problem)," Pope Francis said. "The problem of migrants is serious, it's serious there and it's serious here," he said about Europe, particularly "along the Libyan coast."

Speaking about his own experience as a child of immigrants, and now as an immigrant in Rome, the pope said that every person who leaves his or her homeland "misses the air of their birthplace."

"The mate you make in a thermos yourself is not the same as the mate your mom or your aunt makes for you," he said, referring to the caffeinated herbal drink popular in Argentina.

Vaqueiro asked Pope Francis about his meeting May 13 with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The pope said Zelenskyy asked for his help in returning Ukrainian children who have been taken into Russia and told the pope to "not dream much about mediations."

Since the outbreak of the war, the Vatican has avoided openly condemning the Russian government and has offered itself as a mediator for peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.

"Really, Ukraine's bloc is very strong, it's all of Europe, the United States, so it has a lot of strength," Pope Francis said to explain why a Vatican mediation did not appear immediately feasible. "But what really pained (Zelenskyy) and what he asked for collaboration on was trying to get the children back into Ukraine."

More than 19,000 Ukrainian children have been forcibly deported into Russia or Russian-held territories according to a Ukrainian government website. The U.N. Human Rights Office has classified Russia's illegal transfer of children into its territories as a war crime.

In response to a question on abortion, Pope Francis said that a fetus is a "living being, I'm not saying a person, but a living being."

"Is it licit to eliminate a living being to resolve a problem?" he asked. "Is it licit to hire a hitman to resolve a problem?"

On abuse, the pope said that priestly celibacy "has nothing to do" with the sexual abuse of minors by the clergy, since, he said, abuse is committed at high rates within families and schools by married persons too.

Vaqueiro, who served earlier in the evening as master of ceremonies at Pope Francis' meeting with members of Scholas Occurentes, a Vatican-related educational initiative, asked the pope what still needed to be done to realize the reforms discussed by the cardinals in the lead up to the conclave that elected him pope just over 10 years ago.

"Everything," Pope Francis said. "It's curious, as you do things, you realize everything that still needs to be done; it's something insatiable."

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By The New York Times February 17, 2016 February 17, 2016

Pope Francis stepped directly into the angry American political debate about immigration on Wednesday when he visited Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, at the border with the United States. He celebrated Mass at a fairground barely 300 feet from the Rio Grande, calling forced migration “a human tragedy.” Scroll down to see how his trip to the border unfolded.

El Paso Stadium Erupts in Cheers for Pope

Migrants seated next to a border fence in El Paso stood for Pope Francis’ arrival on the opposite bank of the Rio Grande on Wednesday.

Near the end of Pope Francis’ homily, the moment that many who had filled the Sun Bowl here had been waiting for finally came. The pope acknowledged and thanked those watching a simulcast of the Mass on the other side of the border.

“Thank you, brothers and sisters in El Paso,” the pope said, as the stadium erupted in cheers.

It was not a sold-out crowd; a few sections remained empty throughout the Mass. Organizers estimated the audience at more than 30,000, and the Sun Bowl can seat more than 50,000. Yet many in the crowd were moved to tears at various points.

“I think maybe this is the only time that I’ll be this close to him,” said Rocio Simental, 48, of El Paso, who sat next to her son in the stadium. “I wanted to cry.”

Shortly before the Mass started, the pope walked up a ramp that had been built at the Rio Grande’s edge and prayed at the crosses there, the closest he appeared to come to the United States and to El Paso.

“He’s on the border!” Ms. Simental’s son, Christopher, 24, told his mother as he watched the screen and held up his cellphone to start recording.

Some rose to their feet to wave to the pope. Christopher Simental sat in his wheelchair. He has a spinal birth defect and can no longer walk. He takes part in therapeutic horseback riding, riding horses once a week in New Mexico.

“When he’s on a horse, it’s mimicking like if he were to be walking,” Ms. Simental explained.

Mr. Simental had a hard time putting his thoughts about the pope’s visit into words. “Just very emotionally star-struck,” he said.

Huge Crowd as Pope Delivers His Last Mass in Mexico

One thing about covering Francis. I go to church a lot more than I used to. And I go with a lot more people. Crowd at Mass estimated at 200K plus A video posted by Jim Yardley (@yardleyjb) on Feb 17, 2016 at 3:55pm PST

Amid Anger on Campaign Trail, Francis Calls for Compassion

Pope Francis is finishing up the homily for his Mass on the border in Juárez. He has described the plight of the thousands of people, mostly from Central America, who are fleeing chaos in a forced migration north.

At a time when anger defines much of the discussion on immigration in the United States, certainly in the Republican presidential race, Francis called for compassion.

It will be interesting to see how this plays among the Republican candidates.

Pope Calls Forced Migration ‘a Human Tragedy’ at Mass

Pope Francis called forced migration “a human tragedy” during his Mass in Ciudad Juárez.

“We cannot deny the humanitarian crisis which in recent years has meant the migration of thousands of people, whether by train or highway or on foot, crossing hundreds of kilometers through mountains, deserts and inhospitable zones,” he said. “The human tragedy that is forced migration is a global phenomenon today.”

He described “a journey laden with grave injustices: the enslaved, the imprisoned and extorted,” adding, “So many of these brothers and sisters of ours are the consequence of a trade in human beings.”

He cited poverty, violence, drug trafficking and lawlessness as the root causes of migration to the United States from Central America and Mexico.

Here is more from his remarks:

“Being faced with so many legal vacuums, they get caught up in a web that ensnares and always destroys the poorest. Not only do they suffer poverty, but they must also endure these forms of violence. Injustice is radicalized in the young; they are ‘cannon fodder,’ persecuted and threatened when they try to flee the spiral of violence and the hell of drugs. Then there are the many women unjustly robbed of their lives.

No more death nor exploitation! There is still time to change. There is still a way out and a chance, time to implore the mercy of God.”

Francis saluted the migrant rights groups, priests and lay people “often risking their own lives” to help people on the trail.

“By their very lives, they are prophets of mercy; they are the beating heart and the accompanying feet of the church that opens its arms and sustains,” he concluded.

Juárez Is Breathing New Life

Pope Francis arriving for an outdoor Mass in Ciudad Juárez on Wednesday.

The city of Juárez is all but empty, bereft of traffic, human and vehicular. Hundreds of thousands have made their way to the open field where the pope is just finishing his final Mass in Mexico, catching one of the dozens of buses normally reserved for ferrying factory employees to and from work.

The effort sprang to life at 4 a.m., when drivers began congregating in stations across the city to transport visitors from all over Mexico (and even a few from the United States). Since then, more and more have piled up at the entrance to the facility, some lucky enough to have tickets to attend and others hoping to find scalpers or wheedle their way in.

On the buses this morning, residents expressed a pride unique to those who have lived through dark times and come out on the other end.

Just a few years ago, Juárez was considered the most dangerous city in the world, a stand-in for the decay prompted by the drug trade. Since then, after a scattershot campaign by the government to reverse the deadly course, violence has dropped and the city is breathing new life.

Francis Wanted a Powerful Image, and He Got One

Pope Francis prayed next to the United States border before celebrating Mass at the Ciudad Juárez fairgrounds on Wednesday.

It was quite a moment. After riding through a huge crowd at the border in his popemobile, Francis paused behind a stage and then re-emerged, still in the vehicle. He was driven to the memorial that had been built for those who have died along the border. Slowly, he walked up the ramp toward the great cross now rising beside the Rio Grande. At the top, he crossed himself and prayed. Then he stood alone for a few moments before taking a bouquet of flowers and placing them on a small table before the cross.

What might have been most amazing was the silence. On the Mexican side, the crowd of 200,000 watched in complete quiet. On the American side, border agents peered through the fence with binoculars, usually used to look for immigrants sneaking over, but today simply for a better view.

Francis wanted a powerful image, and he got one. He wanted to commemorate the dead and offer a reminder of the families who are separated. It took maybe two or three minutes.

Now we wait for the Mass, the final event of his Mexico trip.

‘We Just Want His Blessing,’ Says Migrant at Border

Seated near the front row of the stage for Pope Francis’ final Mass in Mexico, a cluster of migrants, many from Central America and wearing matching red hats, baked in the afternoon heat. They had arrived at 7 a.m. to get a good seat. All were temporary residents of the Juárez migrant shelter, which houses up to 100 migrants at a time and has become a warm transit point for those approaching the final phase of their journey to the United States.

Most of the men had been deported at least once from the United States, ejected back into Mexico, where they found little respite. With encouragement from their American counterparts, the authorities here have been cracking down on migrants, bringing to a close the once-easy passage through Mexico.

The men could all attest to this, at least those not of Mexican nationality. Now that they were at the border, they were taking a break to gather their wits and resources before the final pass. The papal visit was a diversion, of sorts, to break the monotony of the days waiting to cross.

But it was also a chance to bask in a message of compassion and righteousness after nearly three weeks of rugged travel.

“It was really hard, riding the train, walking, without food or water, trying to avoid the police and the thieves,” said Josue Daniel, 26, from Guatemala, who was on the cusp of making the crossing. “I hope the pope delivers a message that we are all humans, so the Mexicans can hear it.”

He said that in Juárez, the workers at the shelter had been kind, treating him with dignity and respect. “Elsewhere, we were very poorly treated,” he noted.

Guatemala, like its neighbors El Salvador and Honduras, is mired in an epidemic of violence that has forced hundreds of thousands to flee the region in recent years. Gangs are pervasive, extorting and murdering with impunity, while corruption tears at the seams of daily life. In this environment, families often feel they have no choice but to send their children on a 1,200-mile march by themselves in order to escape. More than 20,000 unaccompanied children were nabbed at the United States’ border with Mexico from October through January.

Mr. Daniel talked about this, too, as a band blared music from a stage and the crowd waved flags plastered with the face of the pope. He was 10 the first time he tried to escape, then 18, then 21, then 24, and now 26. Life in Guatemala, he said, had only grown worse in that time.

Mr. Daniel looked at the stage, where the dancing and singing continued. He would cross in the coming days, he said, and keep trying until he made it back into the United States.

How would this visit by the pope help his cause?

“We just want his blessing,” he said with a smile. “After this, it will go well.”

Waiting for Francis, on Both Sides of the Border

People rushed to the area of Ciudad Juárez where Pope Francis was to celebrate an outdoor Mass on Wednesday.

Pope Francis should be here fairly soon, and while about 200,000 people are waiting for him in Ciudad Juárez for the Mass, he also has 100 or more people waiting for him on the United States side. They were organized by the Roman Catholic Church’s diocese in El Paso, and many are wearing matching orange T-shirts.

I can see security trucks right beside the river, but police cars are also blocking roads. It must be a security precaution.

Interesting is a sign on a building on the El Paso side: “Immigrant lives matter.”

At Border, Pope Will Find Memorial for Those Who Died Trying to Cross

Father Javier Calvillo Salazar left shoes used by migrants in the area of Ciudad Juárez where Pope Francis will say Mass.

When Pope Francis arrives at the border, he is going to walk onto a new memorial, built for him, that commemorates those who have died trying to reach the United States. There is a large cross overlooking the Rio Grande, which here is just a channelized concrete ditch.

The question is whether Francis will walk to the edge of the river.

About 100 people have been allowed to gather on the American side. Parked near them is a line of security vehicles, including one from the Border Patrol.

Francis Is Across Border, but His Presence Is Felt in El Paso

Hours before the start of Pope Francis’ Mass in Ciudad Juárez , hundreds of people stood in line outside the Sun Bowl football stadium here, waiting to enter for a live simulcast, some shielding themselves from the hot sun with umbrellas, baseball caps and cowboy hats.

A group of parishioners from Our Lady of Fatima church in Van Horn, Tex., stood in matching blue T-shirts, fresh from a nearly two-hour, eight-vehicle road trip. Several of them were teenagers whose schools, like numerous others in and around El Paso, had closed for the day to allow students and faculty to attend the Sun Bowl event or the Mass in Juárez.

“It’s a blessing for us,” said Cornelio Garibay, 55, a Culberson County commissioner who teaches at the church and helped organize the trip. “We’re close to the border ourselves in Van Horn. Having our pope coming in close to us is a historical deal.”

The Sun Bowl is literally carved into the brown desert mountains and is home to the University of Texas at El Paso’s Miners football team.

Amid the rocky backdrop and the stadium setting, the event took on the feel of an outdoor, bilingual megachurch rally, with music, prayers and dancing. One end zone was emblazoned with the orange Miners logo; on the other was mounted a stage for the performers and speakers. Next to one concession stand, people posed for photos with a life-size Francis cut-out. Ticket prices ranged from $5 to $21.

Pablo Guillen, 62, a retired water maintenance worker who has lived in El Paso since he was 5, said he did not mind paying $13 to attend. “I would have paid more,” said Mr. Guillen, who sat in the thin strip of shade provided by a light pole in the parking lot. “He’s across the border, but his presence will touch everybody.”

Joan Cannon, 83, of Franklin, Mass., leaned on a cane with her left hand and clutched the beads of a rosary with her right. Her daughter lives in El Paso, but the pope’s visit was one of the main reasons for her trip to Texas.

“It’s just something very special to be in the presence of the pope, even if it is by teletron or whatever,” she said. “You can just feel the love and the excitement in the crowd.”

Vatican Press Corps Reaches Site for Pope’s Mass

The Vatican press corps just reached the site where Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in Ciudad Juárez. The border with the United States is less than a football field’s length away, and there are maybe 200,000 people gathered on the Mexican side waiting for Francis to arrive in the next hour and a half. There is a small group of people waiting for him on the American side, too.

In Visit to College, Francis Says ‘God Will Hold Slavedrivers Accountable’

Pope Francis greeted children at Bachilleres College in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on Wednesday.

Prisons are a staple of most of Francis’ trips, and so are meetings with workers. After leaving a penitentiary on Wednesday, Francis went to Bachilleres College to speak to workers and business owners in his second stop of the day.

It offered another chance for the Argentine pope to articulate his economic critique of consumer societies — one that has brought criticism from some in the United States. Throughout his visit, Francis has implored Mexico to create opportunities for its young people, and he returned to that theme again, describing a cycle in which a lack of opportunity creates poverty and alienation and becomes “the best breeding ground for the young to fall into the cycle of drug trafficking and violence.”

But Francis also looked beyond Mexico to dive into some of the themes he explored during a dramatic speech last year in Bolivia, in which he railed against a “new colonialism” wrought by capitalistic excess. On Wednesday, he argued against what he called an “imposed” paradigm “of economic utility as the starting point for personal relationships.”

“The prevailing mentality advocates for the greatest possible profits, immediately and at any cost,” he said, arguing that this caused the “ethical dimension of business to be lost.”

He added: “God will hold the slavedrivers of our days accountable, and we must do everything to make sure that these situations do not happen again. The flow of capital cannot decide the flow and life of people.”

Francis has a knack for zesty prose, but his arguments are firmly rooted in the Roman Catholic Church’s social doctrine. He raised that doctrine on Wednesday as a rebuttal to critics who said his vision seemed to call for businesses to become charities or philanthropic institutions.

“The only aspiration of the church’s social doctrine is to guard over the integrity of people and social structures,” he said. “Every time that, for whatever reason, this integrity is threatened or reduced to a consumer good, the church’s social doctrine will be a prophetic voice to protect us all from being lost in the seductive sea of ambition.”

He added: “This is against no one, but in favor of all. Every sector has the obligation of looking out for the good of all; we are all in the same boat.”

Society, he continued, must struggle to ensure that “work is a humanizing moment” and a “space for building up society and each person’s participation in it.”

Noting that his audience included workers and business owners, Francis conceded that answers were hardly easy. “I know it is not easy to get along in an increasingly competitive world, but it is worse to allow the competitive world to ruin the destiny of the people,” he said. “Profit and capital are not a good over and above the human person; they are at the service of the common good.”

Does the Pope Know What Trump Says About Him?

Pope Francis visited a prison in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on Wednesday.

Pope Francis has not watched television in decades, and by his own account, he gets most of his daily news from a local newspaper in Rome, Il Messaggero. His communications staff members run a Twitter account in his name with millions of followers, but Francis has laughingly conceded that he is pretty useless with cellphones and computers.

All of which prompted a question on Tuesday as a weary press corps spent a final night in Mexico City before the trip to Juárez: Given that the pope is not an obsessed consumer of global media, does he know who Donald J. Trump is? And does he know that Mr. Trump recently criticized the pope as a politician who is doing the bidding of the Mexican government by visiting the border?

Fielding questions during an end-of-day news conference, Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, seemed to smile faintly when the question about Mr. Trump was asked. He offered no specifics on what Francis knew about Mr. Trump, though he did note that the pope is kept well informed of events. He also pointed out that Francis has a global focus on the plight of immigrants and that he regularly raises the issue in other countries and from the Vatican.

Father Lombardi did betray the faintest hint of annoyance, though, at Mr. Trump’s accusation that the pope was a tool of Mexican officials.

“To call him an instrument of Mexico’s government — I would say not,” he said.

Given Francis’ global standing, his actions can obviously have political effects, Father Lombardi added, but his overriding purposes are pastoral and spiritual.

“He is not a politician, because this is not his activity,” Father Lombardi said. “He believes in Christ. He is a believer in the Gospel.”

New Immigration Patterns Put Mexico in Very Different Position

Honduran migrants deported from Mexico in El Carmen, Guatemala, in October.

For most of the last several decades, Mexico has been the primary exporter of migrants to the United States. From 1965 to 2015, according to the Pew Research Center, more than 16 million Mexicans entered the United States, one of the largest mass migrations in history, igniting a debate over border security and the economic effects of immigration that has been a mainstay of American domestic politics.

Fast-forward a few presidential election cycles, and the exact same debate is underway. But now, the immigration patterns have changed drastically. This time around, Mexico arguably has more in common with the United States than the migrants.

That is in part because Mexico has become a transit route for hundreds of thousands of Central American migrants fleeing an epidemic of gang violence and a lack of economic opportunities.

In response to the record number of Salvadorans, Hondurans and Guatemalans coursing through their country, and to American pressure, the Mexican authorities are cracking down on these migrants.

In the recent past, Mexican officials let migrants pass through their territory without harassment. But now, the vigilance is intense. Under its Southern Border Plan, the Mexican government has strengthened border enforcement in the country’s southern states, with a focus on Chiapas. The increased checkpoints and patrols have forced many migrants to take new routes through the country, at greater peril.

The surge in detentions speaks for itself. In 2015, the Mexican authorities arrested more than 170,000 Central American migrants passing through the country illegally. In 2013, that figure was 70,000.

The equation for Mexican immigrants has also changed in recent years. More Mexicans are leaving the United States than are entering it, putting the brakes on the largest influx of immigrants from a single country in American history.

The data, collected by the Pew Research Center from 2009 to 2014, point to several reasons for the change, experts say. A better quality of life in Mexico after the American recession of 2008, cheaper retirement costs back home and a desire to be with family are among them.

But this change in immigration patterns, taken with Mexico’s larger role as a dragnet for Central Americans on their way to the United States, has placed Mexico inside the very debate underway in the United States.

One question is whether Pope Francis will acknowledge Mexico’s altered role on Wednesday and turn a moral high beam on it as well.

Pope Walks Into U.S. Debate Redefined by Donald Trump

Donald J. Trump in North Augusta, S.C., on Tuesday.

By going to the border to call for compassion for migrants, Pope Francis is walking into a debate in the United States that has been redefined by Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, and his call to build a wall to keep Mexicans out.

Mr. Trump’s portrayal of Mexican immigrants as criminals has been a central theme of his campaign, one that is consistently popular with supporters who say they admire his blunt talk.

In an interview last week, Mr. Trump insisted again that he would make Mexico pay for the wall. He estimated that it would cost $8 billion, an amount he said was “a tiny fraction of the money that we lose with Mexico” on trade.

Mr. Trump’s plan to deport 11 million immigrants who are in the United States illegally, about half of them Mexicans, has pushed other Republican candidates to take a harder line. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida has called for tougher border enforcement while backing away from his support for a pathway to citizenship for such immigrants, and he has accused a rival, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, of being soft on illegal immigration. Mr. Cruz has said he would not support any form of what he calls amnesty.

A former Mexican president, Felipe Calderón, responded to Mr. Trump last week, speaking on CNBC . “The Mexican people, we are not going to pay any single cent for such a stupid wall,” he said.

‘We Feel in El Paso Like He’s Visiting Us as Well’

Women handed out water and prayer cards to pilgrims crossing the border at the Cordova International Bridge in El Paso on Tuesday.

In Mexico, Ciudad Juárez has naturally been consumed with the visit by Pope Francis on Wednesday. But across the border in Texas, its sister city, El Paso, has been swept up as well.

El Paso and Juárez share so many geographic, cultural and demographic ties that few here dwell on the fact that Francis is not expected to actually set foot on the American side of the border.

The physical border that separates the two cities, the Rio Grande, is so narrow here that some offices and rooftops in El Paso have a view of downtown Juárez, and people often calculate the distance to Mexico not in miles but in blocks.

“We feel in El Paso like he’s visiting us as well,” said Representative Beto O’Rourke, Democrat of Texas, who is a native of the city. “Two cities from two different countries could not be more connected. The street grids connect through the international bridges that connect the two cities. There’s family connections — people whose parents live on one side, they live on the other, or siblings who are on different sides. It really is two halves of one community.”

On Wednesday, parts of El Paso seemed to both come alive and grind to a halt. Downtown, businesses were shuttered and the sidewalks were largely empty. City administrative offices were closed, as were many schools and sections of highways and streets. But thousands of people started converging on the Sun Bowl, the football stadium on the campus of the University of Texas at El Paso. The late-afternoon Mass that Francis will celebrate at the former Juárez fairgrounds will be shown at the stadium in a two-way telecast that will also allow Francis to view those at the Sun Bowl.

Pope Francis Has Called for Attention for Migrants Before

In visiting the border today, Pope Francis is diving into the American political debate about immigration, but he is also simply saying and doing what he has done on trips elsewhere in the world.

Not long after becoming pope in 2013, Francis chose the Italian island of Lampedusa for his first papal trip . It was a telling decision, because for years, migrants from North Africa had risked their lives to reach Lampedusa on rickety boats or rubber rafts. His message was a cry for global attention to the migrants drowning in the Mediterranean.

When he visited the Holy Land in May 2014, Francis made an unscheduled stop in Bethlehem , in the West Bank, to pray and lean his head against the controversial partition wall that divides the Palestinian sector of the city from Israel.

His visit to the United States in September 2015 was more of the same. When he stood with President Obama on the South Lawn of the White House, Francis introduced himself as “a son of immigrants,” a reminder that his parents fled Fascist Italy for Argentina. During his address to Congress , Francis reminded lawmakers of America’s immigrant tradition and called on them to welcome such desperate people, not demonize or fear them.

Some critics say Francis’ gestures are resonant but ultimately just gestures. Yet, in at least one case, his influence is credited with policy change. In 2013, hundreds of migrants were believed to have drowned near the coast of Lampedusa after their rickety boat sank . Francis spoke out, calling the accident a terrible tragedy that did not need to happen. Italian officials soon created a naval rescue program, Mare Nostrum, credited with saving more than 100,000 migrants in the Mediterranean. Some officials say Francis’ words influenced the decision by Prime Minister Enrico Letta to establish the rescue mission.

Pope Francis Initially Had Different Plan for Border Trip

Excitement as Pope Francis arrived in Ciudad Juárez on Wednesday.

Pope Francis clearly understands the power of gestures, and his visit today to the border is deliberately dramatic and provocative. But it was not his initial plan.

Originally, the Vatican had considered combining a trip to Mexico with Francis’ visit to the United States in September. The idea was that Francis would travel to Mexico by land. It is hard to imagine a more visually arresting image than a Latin American pope crossing the border where many desperate migrants have died trying to reach the United States.

But last year, Francis told reporters that his plan was not to be. To visit the United States and Mexico together would require a very long trip, or a shorter trip that would shortchange one country over the other. He said he could not imagine a short trip to Mexico that denied him time to visit the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe (which he did on Saturday).

So the Vatican instead tacked on a visit to Cuba, which itself assumed a special symbolism after the unexpected announcement of a diplomatic rapprochement between Havana and Washington. Francis had secretly helped broker the deal.

Pope Francis in Mexico

pope francis visit to mexico

On Feb. 12, Pope Francis touched down at Havana's José Martí International airport for his historic first meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. It was a brief but highly significant stop ahead of his visit to Mexico, from Feb. 12 to 18. America 's Vatican correspondent Gerard O'Connell will be traveling with the pope and chief correspondent Kevin Clarke and associate editor Olga Segura will provide on-the-ground coverage of the papal Masses and events throughout the week. Check back here for daily updates, analysis and video. 

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'Santa Muerte,' A Worrying Challenge to the Church in Mexico,   Kevin Clarke

Pope Francis said he was "particularly concerned" by those who "praise illusions and embrace their macabre symbols to commercialize death in exchange for money.”

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Image: Pope Francis waves to the crowd, aboard the popemobile in Mexico City's main square

Pope Francis Arrives in Mexico for Five-Day Visit

Pope Francis kicked off his first trip to Mexico, and will include a very personal prayer before the Virgin of Guadalupe shrine.

Image: Pope Francis dons a Mexican charro style sombrero that was given to him by a person in the crowd

Accompanied by Mexican Cardinal and Archbishop of Mexico City Norberto Rivera, center, and Papal Nuncio Christophe Pierre, right, Pope Francis dons a Mexican charro style sombrero that was given to him by a person in the crowd, in Mexico City's main square, the Zocalo, on Feb. 13, 2016. Pope Francis kicked off his first trip to Mexico on Saturday with speeches to the country's political and ecclesiastic elites. The pontiff's five-day visit will include a prayer at the Virgin of Guadalupe shrine.

Image: A young girl waits for the passage of Pope Francis on his way to the Nuncianture, in Mexico City

A young girl waits for the passage of Pope Francis on his way to the Nuncianture, in Mexico City on Feb. 13, 2016.

Image: Pope Francis waves to the crowd, aboard the popemobile in Mexico City's main square

Pope Francis waves to the crowd, aboard the popemobile in Mexico City's main square, the Zocalo, on Feb. 13, 2016.

Image: Pope Francis kisses a child in a wheelchair at Mexico City's main sqaure

Pope Francis kisses a child in a wheelchair at Mexico City's main sqaure, the Zocalo, on Feb. 13, 2016.

Image: Pope Francis waves to the crowd while leaving Zocalo Square in Mexico City

Pope Francis waves to the crowd while leaving Zocalo Square in Mexico City on Feb. 13, 2016.

Image: People wait for Pope Francis outside Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City

People wait for Pope Francis outside Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City on Feb. 13, 2016.

Image: Pope Francis meets with bishops at the National Cathedral in Mexico City

Pope Francis meets with bishops at the National Cathedral in Mexico City on Feb. 13, 2016.

Image: Mexican bishops take snapshots as Pope Francis arrives for a meeting

A Mexican bishop take a photo as Pope Francis arrives for a meeting with the Bishops of Mexico gathered in the Cathedral in Mexico on Feb. 13, 2016. Pope Francis called on Mexico's leaders Saturday to provide "true justice" and security to citizens hit by drug violence as he addressed a National Palace packed with politicians.

Image: People wait for Pope Francis outside Metropolitan Cathedral

Pope Francis is welcomed by Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, center right, and his wife Angelica Rivera, center left, at the Presidential palace in Mexico City, on Feb. 13, 2016.

Image: Pope Francis laughs along with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto

Pope Francis laughs along with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto during a welcoming ceremony at the National Palace in Mexico City, on Feb. 13, 2016.

Image: Faithfuls wait for the passage of Pope Francis in Mexico City

A person is covered in a Pope Francis blanket in Mexico City on Feb. 13, 2016.

Image: A woman sports a face painting depicting Pope Francis in Mexico City

A woman sports a face painting depicting Pope Francis in Mexico City on Feb. 12, 2016.

Image: Pope Francis greets youth dressed in traditional Mexican outfits upon his arrival

Pope Francis greets youth dressed in traditional Mexican outfits upon his arrival to the Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City on Feb. 12, 2016. The pontiff is in Mexico for a week-long visit.

Image: Pope Francis waves to people from the popemobile on his route to the Apostolic Nunciature

Pope Francis waves to people from the popemobile on his route to the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission, in Mexico City on Feb. 12, 2016.

Image: Pope Francis wears a sombrero

Pope Francis wears a sombrero he was handed alongside Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, right, and first lady Angelica Rivera after his arrival in Mexico City on Feb. 12, 2016.

Image: Pope Francis speaks with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto

Pope Francis speaks with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, right, and first lady Angelica Rivera upon his arrival at the Benito Juarez International Airport, in Mexico City on Feb. 12, 2016.

Image: Pope Francis is welcomed by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto

Pope Francis is welcomed upon his arrival at the Benito Juarez International Airport, in Mexico City on Feb. 12, 2016.

Image: Pope Francis arrives to Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City

Pope Francis arrives to Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City, on Feb. 12, 2016.

pope francis visit to mexico

Pope Francis's visit to Mexico - in pictures

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During his five-day visit to Mexico and surrounded by large crowds the Pope’s focus was on the marginalised with his itinerary including a visit to prisoners and Mass near the Mexico-US border

Enrique Perez Huerta

Thu 25 Feb 2016 12.08 GMT Last modified on Thu 5 Oct 2017 16.55 BST

After a stopover in Havana, Cuba for a brief meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, His Holiness Pope Francis arrived in Mexico City aboard an Alitalia Airbus A330-200All photographs: Enrique Perez Huerta

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Pope urges Mexicans to communion and full life

By Vatican News staff reporter

"The anniversary you are celebrating invites you to look not only to the past to strengthen the roots, but also to continue living the present and to build the future with joy and hope, reaffirming the values that have constituted you and identify you as a people", wrote Pope Francis in a letter to the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico (CEM), Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez of Monterrey, on the occasion of 200 years of the declaration of the independence of Mexico, which was marked on Monday. 

Strengthening roots and values

In the letter, signed on September 16, the Holy Father affirmed that the celebration of independence is “to affirm freedom, which is a gift and a permanent conquest”, which is why he was joining "in the joy of this celebration". At the same time, he expressed the desire that this special anniversary "be a propitious occasion to strengthen the roots and reaffirm the values that build them as a nation".

Sins of the past

In his message, the Pope said that “to strengthen the roots it is necessary to re-read the past, taking into account both the lights and the shadows that have shaped the history of the country”. "This retrospective look necessarily includes a process of purification of memory, that is, recognizing the mistakes made in the past, which have been very painful”.  “For this reason,” the Argentine Pope wrote, “on various occasions both my predecessors and myself have asked forgiveness for personal and social sins, for all actions or omissions that did not contribute to evangelization”.

Actions against Christian sentiment

The Pope pointed out that we also cannot “ignore the actions that, in more recent times, were committed against the Christian religious sentiment of a great part of the Mexican people, which provoked a profound suffering". At the same time, he stressed that the pains of the past are not evoked to "remain" there, "but to learn from them and to continue taking steps to heal the wounds, to cultivate an open and respectful dialogue between differences, and to build the longed-for fraternity, prioritizing the common good above particular interests, tensions and conflicts".

Independence, union, and religion

For all these reasons, the Supreme Pontiff indicates the way not only to strengthen the roots but also to continue living the present while building the future with joy and hope, "reaffirming the values that have constituted and identify them as a people". These are values for which the Mexican nation has fought so hard, and for which "many of your ancestors have given their lives": they are the values of "independence, union, and religion".

The Virgin of Guadalupe

In his letter, the Holy Father also reminded Mexico’s bishops of "another event that will undoubtedly mark a whole journey of faith for the Mexican Church in the coming years": the celebration, in a decade, of the 500th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is the patroness of Mexico, the Americas, and the Philippines.

In conclusion, the Holy Father recalled that the Virgin of Guadalupe, popularly invoked as the Morenita, revealed herself in a particular way to the smallest and neediest and encouraged brotherhood and freedom, reconciliation, and the inculturation of the Christian message, not only in Mexico but in all the Americas.

"May she continue to be for all of you the sure guide that leads you to communion and to full life in her Son Jesus Christ", the Pope concluded.

Mexico's War of Independence

Most Mexicans celebrate the anniversary of the start of the War of Independence, September 16, 1810, which was quashed to a great extent by the Spanish and their local royalist allies, Mexico's elite at the time. However, guerrilla fighters continued their struggle in southern Mexico after 1815. In 1820, when a liberal government came to power in Spain, Mexico’s conservatives and royalists decided to push for independence. They joined forces with the guerrilla fighters and rode into the capital on September 27, 1821, essentially ending Mexico’s War of Independence.

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Pope Francis in visit of hope to Mexico

Francis wants to stand with victims of corruption, violence and organised crime during his five-day visit to Mexico.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis’ trip to Mexico – his first as pontiff – is packed with events that will underscore the endemic violence and corruption found across the country.

His itinerary reads like a trip to combat zones – Ecatepec, a gritty violent sprawling suburb of Mexico City; Michoacan, the state where drug cartel violence spawned a vigilante movement; and Ciudad Juarez, once known as the most violent city in the hemisphere.

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To top it off, he’ll also reach out to indigenous Catholics in Chiapas, leading prayers in their native languages. This is a group former Vatican officials and popes have kept at arm’s length.

It is all part of a wider point. Francis wants to stand in solidarity with the millions of Mexicans touched by corruption, violence and organised crime. 

By holding a Mass on Sunday in Ecatepec, he is shining a light on a community that for many is a microcosm of Mexico. Femicides, extortion, kidnapping and killings are daily occurrences there. There are reports of lynchings too, by mobs fed up with violence and government neglect.

READ MORE: Pope Francis calls on Iran to promote Middle East peace

When interviewing an anti-crime activist, Osmar León, we asked him his title. Confused that we were asking for a title for the news story he said “The Hell of Living in Ecatepec.”

Just one man’s opinion, but it shows how bad the situation is for those who live on the violent periphery of Mexico City.

Many who attend Francis’ Mass on Sunday will likely either be victims of violent crime, family members of murder victims or relatives of someone who’s gone missing or disappeared. 

Ecatepec also highlights the possibility of Mexico. It is home to about 1.7 million people – many of whom just want to work hard to get ahead. I met one such woman, Pilar, who cleans houses in Mexico City. She built a house in Ecatepec with her husband more than 20 years ago. They still keep fixing it. One of their five children is an engineer, another is a doctor and one more is in university. She and her family carry on despite regular run-ins with armed robbers on buses and criminal gangs in their neighbourhood.

By visiting Michoacan state, Francis is trying to show his defence of priests who have stood up to cartels there. Some of those priests were kidnapped and killed.

Michoacán was so thoroughly controlled by La Familia Michoacana and its offshoot, the Knights Templar, that vigilantes took up arms to fight back – with mixed and complicated results.

Francis will wrap up his trip on February 17, with a visit to a prison that used to be run by drug gangs in Ciudad Juarez. He will then say Mass at the border with participants on both the U.S. and Mexican sides. He will say a prayer for all the migrants who have died on their journey to the U.S..

Each of these visits to areas better known for past or present conflicts will allow Francis to draw attention to the suffering and pain wrought by corruption, drug trafficking and criminal gangs.

Pope’s calls for stability

It also makes for some uncomfortable moments for the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto.

When Pope Benedict XVI came to Mexico in 2012, he visited typical holy sites in Mexico City and the conservative centre of the country.

Francis will do that, too. He says his greatest desire is to stand in front of the cloth with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe – the holiest shrine in Mexico and the most visited Marian shrine in the world. But after he fulfils his personal goal to pray and look on the most potent religious and cultural symbol in Mexico, the trip becomes more controversial and politically loaded.

Still, if the president and his administration artfully manage the trip and back some of Francis’ calls for a more secure, less corrupt Mexico, they could even boost their capital with voters.

As the first Latin American pope, Francis is extremely popular here. The president and other politicians are hoping some of his shine rubs off on them.

LAist is part of Southern California Public Radio, a member-supported public media network.


This archival content was originally written for and published on KPCC.org. Keep in mind that links and images may no longer work — and references may be outdated.

In this Friday, Dec. 27, 2013 photo, workers at one of maquiladoras of the TECMA group prepare to raise the U.S. flag along with the Mexican and TECMA flags in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. TECMA currently has 14 maquiladora plants in Ciudad Juarez. With the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement twenty years ago, many North American and international companies have moved their manufacturing to Mexico at a lower cost and while a majority of Mexicans have seen little benefit in income. While there is undoubtedly a larger middle class today, Mexico is the only major Latin American country where poverty also has grown in recent years.

Pope Francis is set to wrap up a five-day visit to Mexico with a highly-symbolic visit to Ciudad Juárez, a key gateway for migrants headed north to the US.

Pope Francis is set to wrap up a five-day visit to Mexico with a highly-symbolic visit to Ciudad Juárez, a border city still recovering from extreme drug violence and a key gateway for migrants headed north to the US.

"Ciudad Juárez is a place of deep wounds going back as far as the Mexican Revolution," said

, senior correspondent with Fronteras. "More recently, there was a turf war between two rival drug cartels that created tremendous violence like the city had never seen."

That violence took more than 10,000 lives over a four-year span and dramatically reduced people coming from the U.S. side of the border. But starting in 2012, signs of recovery began to show.

"The city has slowly been coming out of that violence and trying to go back to normal," said Uribe. "This Papal visit is a chance for the city to hold it's head up high and say, 'We're getting better.'"

The visit is expected to also highlight the risks that many migrants face in their journey north through Mexico and into the U.S. with a meeting on the border Wednesday with immigrants.

"They include women and children and asylum-seekers and they'll be waiting on the Pope and expect to receive his blessing from the Mexico side," said Uribe. "They're also looking for him to talk about immigration, to talk about drug violence and overcoming that."

The Pope has been criss-crossing Mexico for the past four days.

At a Sunday mass, he spoke in front of a massive crowd just outside Mexico City, condemning the drug trade and demanding justice for the victims of forced migration. The day before, he met with President Enrique Peña Nieto and admonished the country's Catholic bishops for being out of touch with the needs of the poor.

Today, he's in Michoacán – and tomorrow he wraps up the visit in Ciudad Juárez, near the U.S. border.

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Pope Francis’ disappointing visit to Mexico

The less progressive face of the pontiff was on display in a stronghold of the roman catholic church.

On Feb. 12, Pope Francis landed in Mexico City’s international airport. It was the first time that he visited Mexico as the head of the Roman Catholic Church. Mexico had been the only major Latin American country he hadn’t visited since he was elevated to the Throne of St. Peter. Mexican political commentators spent months before his visit speculating on the content of his message. Many assumed that he would be especially bold in a country that has known no end to the violence that started with the so-called war on drugs. 

Francis is no foreigner to political struggles of minorities and disadvantaged groups. As pope, he has used the power of his office to elevate issues such inequality and climate change on the global agenda. Thus many in Mexico were expecting him to deliver an especially powerful message, given Mexico’s troubled recent history.

It is no secret to outsiders that since 2006, Mexico has been experiencing a slow-motion human rights crisis. During the last 10 years, more than 160,000 people have died in the war on drugs. More than 20,000 people have disappeared. Heartbreaking testimonies can be found all over the country from survivors and family members of those who have been lost. Free press is under attack, and journalists are killed with impunity.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church in Mexico has gone through a series of scandals. As in the U.S., there have been allegations throughout Mexico of priests who molested children, and Catholic authorities in Mexico did everything possible to protect the priests and shield them from judicial procedures. It appears from journalistic investigations that Pope John Paul II knew about the abuses and did nothing.

Francis found a country that has steadily become less Catholic. While 50 years ago, virtually every Mexican considered himself or herself a Catholic, nowadays, only 4 in 5 Mexicans do so. Catholics in Mexico are mainly clustered in the center of the country, with the indigenous south shifting toward other forms of Christianity. Islam has been on the rise in Chiapas, a largely indigenous state that Francis visited on Monday.

In this context, his Masses in Mexico were largely anodyne. He focused on one of his main talking points, inequality, while skipping any thorny local political issues. On Sunday he flew to Ecatepec, a gray slum on the outskirts of Mexico City that is a representative sample of the half of Mexico’s population living in poverty.  

While in Ecatepec, he addressed the country’s glaring disparities and mourned the deaths of those who make the journey to the U.S. at the hands of what he referred to as “dealers of death.” However, his speech and visit largely avoided addressing any controversial topics. In the months before his trip, the parents of the 43 college students from Ayotzinapa who disappeared a year and a half ago asked him to meet with them. He refused to see them, but they were invited to a Mass he held in Juárez, according to Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi.

The disappearance of the 43 students was one of the turning points of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s presidency. His cumbersome response to their disappearance marked the start of the end of his honeymoon with the public. Their disappearance ushered in historic demonstrations around the country that were galvanized by unprecedented international support.

The students’ disappearance also increased scrutiny, at home and abroad, of Mexico’s grave institutional challenges. The first three years of Peña Nieto’s presidency were marked by the official narrative of change and reform. Since their disappearance, the public has shifted its attention to the country’s never-ending violence. Had Francis met with the parents of the disappeared students, it would have rekindled the issue.

The president might have well sensed the pope’s potentially problematic role in a politically charged environment. Some in Mexico pointed out that Peña Nieto made an extraordinary effort to follow Francis’ steps while in Mexico. When Peña Nieto was unable to accompany the pontiff, close presidential aides reportedly followed the pope and his entourage.

The Mexican government might have had an influence on Francis’ message. While he scheduled symbolic stops on his visit, he largely failed to address the epidemic of violence in Mexico. During his visit to the western state of Michoacán, he barely mentioned the role of drug dealing in the carnage. This is especially disappointing, since Michoacán has been one of the states hardest hit by drug violence. In fact, it was in Michoacán that President Felipe Calderón launched the country’s war on drugs in 2006.

Francis also avoided meeting with victims of sexual abuse — a sharp contrast to his visit to the U.S., where he met with five victims. His incapacity to even raise the issue in public might be a demonstration of anxieties he feels about the shrinking and scandal-worn church in Mexico.

While Francis has been known as a poignant political messenger, he largely failed in Mexico. The Mexican government seems to have created the necessary conditions to avoid embarrassment during the papal visit.

The pope who went to Mexico this week was very different from the progressive pope the world has come to think of. Francis’ message in Mexico largely failed to give the comfort and hope that so many families who have lost so much over the years deserve. 

Miguel Guevara was born and raised in Cuernavaca, Mexico. He holds a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. 

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera America's editorial policy.

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Pope Francis denounces attempts to close southern border as ‘madness’

P ope Francis denounced efforts to limit migration at the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday, calling out a Texas effort to shut down a Catholic charity “madness.”

The Catholic leader said in a “60 Minutes” interview with Norah O’Donnell that American leaders should instead embrace forgiveness toward migrants entering the country.

“Migration is something that makes a country grow,” he said. “They say that you Irish migrated and brought the whiskey, and that the Italians migrated and brought the mafia. Migrants sometimes suffer a lot. They suffer a lot.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) in February attempted to subpoena Annunciation House, a Catholic charity that acts as a temporary boarding house for migrants from Mexico. He accused the group of “alien harboring, human smuggling, and operating a stash house.”

“That is madness. Sheer madness,” Francis said. “To close the border and leave them there, that is madness.” 

“The migrant has to be received,” he continued, advocating against GOP efforts to close the southern border. “Thereafter, you see how you are going to deal with him. Maybe you have to send him back, I don’t know, but each case ought to be considered humanely.”

A Texas judge blocked Paxton’s subpoena against Annunciation House in March, though his office filed a similar complaint against the charity again Friday.

The Pope’s comments come as Congress is again at a standstill over discussions on border reform. After a previously negotiated bipartisan deal fell apart in February, few attempts have been made to start negotiations again on an issue that Republicans have dubbed a “crisis.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has considered reintroducing the bipartisan deal in recent days, but it has received pushback from immigration advocacy groups.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.

Pope Francis denounces attempts to close southern border as ‘madness’

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The Pope Goes Prime-Time

By Paul Elie

Pope Francis sits on a chair facing Norah ODonnell.

Pope John Paul II made a hundred and four “apostolic journeys” to a hundred and twenty-nine countries during his time in office, which stretched from 1978 to 2005. When I saw him, along with a hundred and twenty-five thousand other people, in Central Park, in 1995, he was on his sixth trip to the United States. By then, the papal visit—a Mass, encounters with dignitaries and priests, an outing to a local shrine, a tarmac sendoff with a brass band—had become so familiar that one could forget that it was a new phenomenon, indeed a reversal from the standard practice of the first half of the twentieth century, when five Popes, all Italians, never left Rome.

Pope Francis has made a similar transformation with the face-to-face interview: John Paul often only spoke to the press en masse, but Francis has made the informal conversation a signature aspect of his pontificate. It is a setting in which he seems to embody virtues that are central to his vision of the Catholic Church—openness, humility, and the ability to listen. Since his election, in 2013, he has taken questions from Catholic teen-agers from Belgium; had a long exchange with Eugenio Scalfari, the editor of the Italian daily La Repubblica (who was also a prominent atheist); and joined in a video call with university students in the Americas. He has sat one-on-one with reporters from La Voz del Pueblo and La Nación , of his native Argentina; Televisa, of Mexico; and COPE , a radio network run by the Church in Spain. He’s given interviews for high-gloss documentaries by Wim Wenders and by Evgeny Afineevsky and for a Netflix series about older people. And he has held press conferences on the return flights from most of his forty-four apostolic journeys, speaking so casually yet expressively that some commentators joke about the “magisterium in the sky.”

But Francis hadn’t granted an in-depth interview to a U.S. television network until last month. That interview, with Norah O’Donnell, of CBS, was broadcast in an excerpt on “60 Minutes” on Sunday evening, and then, in a longer form, as part of a full-hour program on Monday, called “Pope Francis: The First.” The interview was conducted at the Vatican guesthouse where Francis lives. O’Donnell, who was raised Catholic, wore a black dress and asked clear, direct questions in English; Francis replied in Spanish, and his replies were then relayed in English by Al Ortiz, a retired CBS News executive. The tightly edited “60 Minutes” segment was about thirteen minutes; the Monday presentation was about twice as long, broken up with archival footage of Francis and clips of O’Donnell out and about at the Vatican.

The founding producer of “60 Minutes,” Don Hewitt, sometimes likened the program to a Sunday church service: a solemn hour that ushered viewers out of the weekend of leisure (and TV sports) and brought them back to serious matters, as a new workweek began. In presentation, the “60 Minutes” segment was more liturgical than eventful—a long-awaited encounter between the papacy and a venerable news program. In substance, it was something like a highlight reel of topical remarks similar to those the Pope has previously made in interviews, homilies, and blessings. The wars in Ukraine and Gaza ; women, children, and migrants; sexual abuse and climate change; the nature of the Church; the need for hope; and the attitude that Francis calls “the globalization of indifference”—were all mentioned, if briefly. When Francis was asked about antisemitism, for example, he replied, “All ideology is bad, and antisemitism is an ideology, and it is bad. Any ‘anti’ is always bad. You can criticize one government or another, the government of Israel, the Palestinian government. You can criticize all you want, but not ‘anti’ a people. Neither anti-Palestinian nor antisemitic.”

Why did the Pope sit for such an interview now? It may be that an appearance on a prime-time American TV show was just a matter of time. It may be that he has an eye on the November election, in which President Joe Biden, a Catholic, is running against former President Donald Trump, whose policies on borders and migration Francis excoriated indirectly in 2017, when he spoke of the need “not to create walls, but to build bridges” (a remark that O’Donnell echoed). Or it may be that Francis hoped to address American Catholics who are out of sympathy with the Church he leads. In the years since his only U.S. visit so far—to New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., in September, 2015—new revelations about decades of clerical sexual abuse of minors and coverups by bishops have led plenty of Catholics to lose trust in the Church or even to abandon it. For many, the COVID -19 pandemic broke the practice of Sunday Mass: a survey from 2023 found that Mass attendance among white Catholics had dropped by twenty-eight per cent since 2019, and had dropped among Hispanic Catholics by eighteen per cent. Meanwhile, an ardent, sophisticated, and amply funded Catholic traditionalism has emerged, with particular vigor in this country, promoting liturgical practices associated with the Church prior to Vatican II — in particular, the Latin Mass . These new traditionalists hold Catholic moral teaching to be absolute on divorce, homosexuality, and abortion—a stance that has given vital support to Republican efforts to limit abortion rights. They have taken inspiration from John Paul and his successor, Benedict XVI . And, because Benedict lived for nearly a decade after he resigned , in February, 2013, they have framed their efforts as acts of fidelity to the first-ever Pope emeritus, with some insinuating that Francis’s seeming flexibility on contested issues makes him a kind of anti-Pope.

And, in the days before the interview aired, social media was overtaken with commentary about a Catholic figure with a message distinctly different from the Pope’s: Harrison Butker, a placekicker for the Kansas City Chiefs. In a commencement address at Benedictine College, a Catholic school in Atchison, Kansas, on May 11th, Butker set out the traditionalist approach in harsh terms, calling gay-pride activities expressions of “the deadly-sin sort of pride,” dismissing support for women’s career aspirations as “diabolical lies,” and deriding “the Church of nice.”

Such issues and developments figured into the interview. O’Donnell asked Francis, “There are conservative bishops in the Church who oppose your new efforts to revisit teachings and traditions. How do you address their criticism?” “You used an adjective, ‘conservative,’ ” he said. “A conservative is one who clings to something and does not want to see beyond that. It is a suicidal attitude. Because one thing is to take tradition into account, to consider situations from the past, but quite another is to be closed up inside a dogmatic box.”

That answer, in a few words, demonstrates the Pope’s conversational style. He begins with specifics (the meaning of the word “conservative”) then leaps to a broad generalization (“one who clings to something”). Because he uses figures of speech (“a dogmatic box”) rather than the sonorous phrasing of his predecessors, his provocative claim that conservativism is “suicidal” seems more an offhand remark than a rebuke to his critics.

His reply also suggests that the interview was meant to shore up support among the progressive Catholics whose dam-has-broken sense of possibility defined his first thousand or so days as Pope. But it followed an exchange that ought to mollify traditionalists. O’Donnell said, “Last year, you decided to allow Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples. That’s a big change. Why?” In halting language, the Pope corrected her, twice affirming the traditional Catholic view of marriage as a sacrament and indicating that same-sex partnerships are something else. “No, what I allowed was not to bless the union,” he said. “That cannot be done, because that is not the sacrament. I cannot. The Lord made it that way. But to bless each person, yes. The blessing is for everyone. For everyone. To bless a homosexual-type union, however, goes against the given right, against the law of the Church. But to bless each person, why not?”

On surrogate motherhood, too, Francis affirmed the traditional position, while qualifying it around the edges. In January, he deplored the emerging market around surrogacy as “exploitative . . . of the mother’s material needs.” Citing that remark, O’Donnell told him that she knows women—cancer survivors—for whom surrogacy is “the only hope.” He responded, “It could be. The other hope is adoption,” and then added, “There is a general rule in these cases, but you have to go into each case in particular to assess the situation, as long as the moral principle is not skirted.” The implication was that surrogacy can be licit if the woman carrying the child is treated fairly and not exploited. As he concluded, he praised the passion that O’Donnell brought to the exchange: “It shows that you feel these things very deeply.”

That exchange was part of a series of questions on the topic of Catholic women, which was a high point of the Monday program. Following a video clip about how Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a model for Catholic women, O’Donnell asked about the roles of women in the Church , noting that her mother served as a Catholic Eucharistic minister and cantor—roles that require no ordination. In reply, Francis praised the contributions of women: “They are braver than the men. They know how best to protect life.” After a voice-over stating that Francis has promoted women to some leadership roles in the Church, O’Donnell noted that, on Sunday, May 26th, the Vatican will host a Catholic youth festival. “I’m curious,” she said, “for a little girl growing up Catholic today, will she ever have the opportunity to be a deacon and participate as a clergy member in the Church?”

“No,” the Pope said. O’Donnell put the question differently: “I understand you have said no women as priests, but you are studying the idea of women as deacons. Is that something you’re open to?” No, Francis said again, adding, “But women have always had, I would say, the function of deaconesses without being deacons, right? Women are of great service as women, not as ministers, as ministers in this regard, within the Holy Orders.” O’Donnell then pointed out that the Holy Thursday rite in which the Pope washes and kisses ordinary people’s feet took place at a women’s prison this year. “Many people interpreted that perhaps as a message you were trying to send,” she said. Francis replied, “The message is that men and women, we are all children of God.”

As a presentation from the head of a 1.4-billion-member community on a topic of ongoing concern, Francis’s sequence of replies about women was unsatisfying. As television, however, it was revealing. Certainly, it’s a good thing that a figure of Francis’s stature is able to speak freely and sound like himself, not merely like a spokesman for the institution he leads. Surely, his affable, scattershot manner of explanation is preferable to the forbidding clarity of the new traditionalists. But a drawback of the conversational approach that Francis has brought to the papacy was plain to see: if the Pope can’t spell out the Catholic position clearly, who can? ♦

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Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s speech on climate change at the Vatican this week gives him an opportunity to align himself and his party with Pope Francis, an influential figure among American Catholics and a leader in the fight against global warming.

But the California governor and the pope’s messages about reducing emissions may not sway American Catholics voting in the 2024 election, especially a monumental presidential contest that could alter national and global climate policies for generations.

Despite the high importance of elections to their shared climate concerns, the issue doesn’t historically drive the pope’s Catholic flock — or typical U.S. voters — to the polls. Catholics appear poised to back Donald Trump , a president who denies global warming and has threatened to reverse environmental protections, over a climate advocate in President Biden, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.

“It’s not really a top tier issue,” said John K. White, an emeritus professor of politics at Catholic University of America. “But sometimes you have to put what you see as the interests of the country, and in this case, the world, ahead of how you think it’s going to play politically.”

Shortly before the governor boarded a plane bound to Rome on Tuesday, Newsom told reporters he plans to discuss the “leading initiatives” California has taken to address the crisis.

“No state has more to lose, not just more to gain, in terms of addressing climate change,” Newsom said at a news conference on mental health and homelessness in San Mateo County.

Pope Francis is the first pontiff to make climate change central to his papacy, and wrote a 2015 encyclical that relied on scientific facts about global warming to deliver a moral call to preserve the planet for future generations. He offered a second, more-aggressive decree last fall with another paper, called “ Laudate Deum ,” or “Praise God,” that challenged countries to protect God’s creation and commit to end the use of fossil fuels before it’s too late.

Pope Francis waves as he prepares to enter a vehicle.

The pope’s climate advocacy, however, has not been fully embraced by deeply divided Catholic voters in the U.S., who vote more like the general electorate than strictly theological voters.

“They have concerns about climate, but that doesn’t rank nearly as high as the economy and they tend to be much more ethnic voters certainly than theological voters,” said Mike Madrid, a Republican political consultant based in California.

Though the pope has been critical of Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border policies, he does not formally endorse one presidential candidate over another and avoids directly meddling in U.S. elections. He influences policy through his own advocacy, such as gathering governors and mayors from around the globe to the climate summit at the Vatican this week to testify about how climate change has affected their own communities.

FILE - In this file photo taken on March 27, 2020, Pope Francis delivers the Urbi and Orbi prayer in an empty St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican. If ever there was a defining moment of Pope Francis during the coronavirus pandemic, it came on March 27, the day Italy recorded its single biggest daily jump in fatalities. From the rain-slicked promenade of St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis said the virus had shown that we’re all in this together, that we need each other and need to reassess our priorities. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)

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American bishops, as a group, are more conservative than the pope and have been active in elections. Bishops voted last year to make abortion the church’s political priority in the 2024 election. Some bishops have embraced Trump, who made good on a campaign promise to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops considered voting in 2021 to refuse communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, including Biden. The Vatican warned the conference against doing so and the bishops ultimately stopped short of a ban.

A pro-Trump faction of white Catholics feels threatened by the growing power of more liberal Latino Catholics within the church and resists the pope’s more-progressive policies, White said. They also tend to care more about abortion rights.

Latino Catholics, who favor Biden by a slim margin, are more concerned about the environment than their white peers, though the economy and immigration typically rank higher than climate change, according to White, Madrid and Pew data.

“They care about feeding their kids more than they are worried about these larger global issues,” Madrid said.

The views of Catholic voters are similar to the overall electorate. In a New York Times Poll conducted in late April and early May , U.S. registered voters ranked the economy as the most important single issue in the 2024 election, followed by immigration and abortion.

Aides to the governor say Newsom’s trip is focused on the existential worldwide environmental threat and isn’t a political calculation.

The governor is going to the Vatican as an evangelist on climate change and to testify about California’s experience and leadership, said Sean Clegg, a senior political advisor to Newsom.

“To be seen as a leader, and California is not just a national leader, but it’s really truly a global leader, you have to stand up and tell your story,” Clegg said.

Newsom’s predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown, blasted former President Trump’s climate policies during a speech at the Vatican in 2017 that intentionally exposed the divide between California and the White House to the world.

Newsom is expected to call out climate skeptics and oil and gas companies that profit off the burning of fossil fuels, and demand that world leaders consider the grave implications of elections in the U.S. and abroad this year. But he is not expected to mention Trump by name in his address to the pope and international leaders.

Newsom will undoubtedly hype the state’s climate policies, including efforts to meet the goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2045 and ambitions to phase out new gas-powered vehicles, and reference his own battles with oil companies. The governor will also offer testimony about the historic wildfires that have decimated California rural towns, floods that have ravaged picturesque coastal communities and years of drought that altered the state’s farmlands.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom unveils his revised 2024-25 state budget during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, May 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

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Outside the conference, Newsom is expected to sit down with the president of Italy and the mayor of Rome and travel to Bologna to sign a memorandum of understanding on addressing climate change. On a trip to Asia last fall, the California governor reached similar agreements with China, the provinces of Guangdong and Jiangsu, and the municipalities of Beijing and Shanghai.

For Newsom, meeting with the leader of the Catholic Church will almost assuredly enhance his national and worldwide political profile.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, in a blue shirt and baseball cap, speaks at a lectern.

The pope enjoys a 75% approval rating among U.S. Catholics and — whether it’s discussing Gaza, Ukraine or the environment — his voice extends beyond the church.

Pope Francis called out the U.S. in his “Laudate Deum” letter last fall, pointing out that its emissions per individual are about two times greater than China‘s and about seven times greater than the average of the poorest countries in the world, said Mary Novak, executive director of the nonprofit NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice.

Newsom’s trip to the Vatican also gives him a chance to promote the state’s environmental agenda just days after he announced a proposal to reduce spending on climate change in California by $3.6 billion to close a budget deficit.

Being seen as a leader on climate in a country that the pope has criticized could benefit the governor. Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healy and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu are also attending the conference.

“These are leaders who have been fighting climate change and [for] the transition to a clean energy economy for a very long time,” Novak said.

She added that it’s smart for the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to invite leaders who can address climate change in their own states and communities to the conference, which is geared around slowing global warming and reducing emissions but also adapting to the reality of rising seas and hotter temperatures.

Newsom’s visit could deepen his standing with climate activists and young people, who care more about the environment than their parents.

“Being seen with the pope is still beneficial,” White said. “The Holy See is an important player on the world stage, not only in climate change, but also in diplomacy.”

Times Staff Writer Anabel Sosa contributed to this report.

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El Paso plans for Pope Francis' visit to U.S.-Mexico border

January 26, 2016 / 9:00 PM EST / CBS/AP

EL PASO, Texas -- Declaring it an "unparalleled high profile event," the El Paso City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a set of plans for Pope Francis' visit to neighboring Ciudad Juárez.

The pope is not scheduled to visit El Paso, but because of the proximity of his motorcade route and mass to the El Paso-Juárez border, the city of El Paso says it will restrict travel in downtown and South-Central El Paso, CBS affiliate KDBC reported .

Leaders say the pope's visit to Juárez at the end of a five-day tour of Mexico will draw hundreds of thousands to both cities.

El Paso's plans include closing a portion of a major border highway, several downtown neighborhoods and city government for the day. The city estimates this will cost nearly $1 million in city services, salaries and equipment. At least two El Paso school districts are also closing the day of the visit, scheduled for Feb. 17.

"This is such a positive thing for our community," El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said. "I'll tell everyone, El Paso is Juárez and Juárez is El Paso."

Many El Paso residents work in Juárez and vice versa. Although Pope Francis won't be crossing over to El Paso, the city is prepping for the many who will attempt to hear a Mass held on a large Juárez field next to the international boundary. The Catholic Diocese of El Paso is hosting a live-stream public viewing event at the Sun Bowl, a stadium that holds over 50,000 people. The event will include musical performances and will cost $18 per person.

The council voted unanimously on four measures that help police and other emergency responders plan their response to the visit.

Rep. Cortney Carlisle Niland said she was concerned about the large number of residential streets being shut down.

"It's a tremendous amount of residents," said Niland, who added that it's a social justice issue for the largely low-income neighborhood along the international border to be shut down.

City manager Tommy Gonzalez said the city was doing community outreach, including door-to-door notifications to residents in the areas affected by closures.

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said the papal visit poses a number of public safety issues not only in Juárez but in El Paso.

"One of the reasons we're controlling that area is to protect that area itself," Allen said. "Unfortunately this is not the ideal situation that we're dealing with. We're gonna have to respond to something that's not even in our country."


The public safety response encompasses local, state and federal officials. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Air and Marine Operations will be in the air and coordinating aviation law enforcement actions. Border Patrol agents will also be assisting.

All ports of entry will be open, staffed with extra officers and opened for longer hours, but Customs and Border Protection says residents should expect long wait times regardless.

The pontiff's visit is especially significant in a largely Catholic region. Over 80 percent of El Paso residents are Hispanic, and nearly 35 percent of Hispanics are Catholic, according to the Pew Research Center.

Preparations are also in full swing in Juárez, which also expects large crowds for the visit. In Ciudad Juarez, advertisements for Pope Francis' upcoming trip are all over the city, especially near its main cathedral.

Images of the pope are shown with the words "Ciudad Juarez is love" in an attempt to transform the city's image as a drug violence-ridden one.

The pope is expected to discuss immigration to the U.S. and poverty on both sides of the border.

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Pope Francis to Travel to Luxembourg and Belgium on Sept. 26-29


FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis speaks during the "Arena of Peace: Justice and Peace Embrace" meeting at Verona Arena during his visit to Verona, Italy, May 18, 2024. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo/File Photo

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis will travel to Luxembourg and Belgium in late September, the Vatican said on Monday, confirming another international trip for the increasingly frail but still very active 87-year-old pontiff.

Francis' health has taken a turn for the worse recently. He has used a cane or a wheelchair since 2022 to move around, and earlier this year he curtailed some public speaking and skipped some engagements, due to breathing difficulties.

Nevertheless, the head of the world's almost 1.4 billion Catholics will head to Luxembourg on Sept. 26 and travel on to Belgium the same day, staying until Sept. 29, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.

In Belgium, Francis will be in Brussels, Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve, Bruni added.

The pope is expected to take part in celebrations for the 600th anniversary of the Catholic University of Leuven/Louvain. There was no immediate word from the Vatican on whether he would also stop by EU institutions, which are based in Brussels.

Francis' travel agenda for this year includes a Sept. 2-13 trip to Asia and Oceania, the longest of his 11-year papacy, with stops in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and Singapore.

Last week, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of the world's Orthodox Christians, said the pope was also planning to visit Turkey next year to mark the anniversary of the First Council of Nicaea.

(Reporting by Cristina Carlevaro and Alvise Armellini, editing by Sharon Singleton)

Copyright 2024 Thomson Reuters .

Photos You Should See - May 2024

TOPSHOT - A woman poses next to French soldiers of the Sentinelle security operation on the sidelines of the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival at the Boulevard de la Croisette, in Cannes, southern France, on May 22, 2024. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP) (Photo by VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

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  10. In pictures: Pope Francis visits Mexico

    15 Feb 2016. Pope Francis is currently on a historic five-day visit to Mexico. The Argentine pope is the first Catholic pontiff to visit the presidential palace since Mexico and the Vatican ...

  11. Pope Francis's visit to Mexico

    During his five-day visit to Mexico and surrounded by large crowds the Pope's focus was on the marginalised. His itinerary included a visit to a prison and Mass near the Mexico-US border

  12. Francis's Visit to Mexico Comes as Country Struggles With Many Ills

    Francis has expressed great interest in visiting the most famous symbol of Mexican Catholicism, the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe. In his remarks to the Mexican news agency, Francis said he ...

  13. Pope Francis in Mexico: Visit to the penitentiary of Ciudad Juárez

    Pope Francis in Mexico: Visit to the penitentiary of Ciudad Juárez

  14. Pope urges Mexicans to communion and full life

    Pope Francis has sent a letter to Mexico's bishops on the occasion of the September 27 celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Latin American nation's final independence from Spain. By Vatican News staff reporter. "The anniversary you are celebrating invites you to look not only to the past to strengthen the roots, but also to continue ...

  15. Pope Francis to visit Mexico in February, church official says

    Pope Francis in America 90 photos MEXICO CITY -- Pope Francis will arrive in Mexico on Feb. 12 to start his long-awaited visit to the heavily Roman Catholic country, a church official said Sunday.

  16. Pope Francis in visit of hope to Mexico

    When Pope Benedict XVI came to Mexico in 2012, he visited typical holy sites in Mexico City and the conservative centre of the country. Francis will do that, too.

  17. Pope to highlight migration in visit to US-Mexico border

    Pope Francis is set to wrap up a five-day visit to Mexico with a highly-symbolic visit to Ciudad Juárez, a border city still recovering from extreme drug violence and a key gateway for migrants ...

  18. List of pastoral visits of Pope Francis

    Pastoral visits of Pope Francis This is a list of pastoral visits of Pope Francis. His visit to the Philippines in January 2015 included the largest papal event in history with around 6-7 million attendees in his final Mass at Manila, surpassing the then-largest papal event at World Youth Day 1995 in the same venue twenty years earlier. International visits 2013 Pope Francis visits a favela ...

  19. Pope Francis' disappointing visit to Mexico

    On Feb. 12, Pope Francis landed in Mexico City's international airport. It was the first time that he visited Mexico as the head of the Roman Catholic Church. ... The Mexican government seems to have created the necessary conditions to avoid embarrassment during the papal visit. The pope who went to Mexico this week was very different from ...

  20. Pope's visit to Mexico controversial, even before arrival

    Pope Francis' two predecessors both visited Mexico, but not all the places he has chosen to visit. And as the first Latin-American, his trip has added significance. In:

  21. Pope Francis denounces attempts to close southern border as ...

    Pope Francis denounced efforts to limit migration at the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday, calling out a Texas effort to shut down a Catholic charity "madness." The Catholic leader said in a "60 ...

  22. The Pope Goes Prime-Time

    The Pope Goes Prime-Time. Pope Francis's appearance on "60 Minutes" is a first. What does it say about the papacy? By Paul Elie. May 21, 2024. Photograph by Adam Verdugo / Courtesy CBS. Pope ...

  23. Climate change is central to both Pope Francis and Newsom. But do

    May 15, 2024 3 AM PT. ROME —. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom's speech on climate change at the Vatican this week gives him an opportunity to align himself and his party with Pope Francis, an ...

  24. El Paso plans for Pope Francis' visit to U.S.-Mexico border

    El Paso, Texas, Mayor Oscar Leeser, discusses plans for the upcoming Feb. 17 visit by Pope Francis to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, which sits on the border with El Paso, Texas, doing a city meeting on ...

  25. Pope Francis to Travel to Luxembourg and Belgium on Sept. 26-29

    Nevertheless, the head of the world's almost 1.4 billion Catholics will head to Luxembourg on Sept. 26 and travel on to Belgium the same day, staying until Sept. 29, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni ...

  26. Pope Francis to travel to Luxembourg and Belgium on Sept. 26-29

    Nevertheless, the head of the world's almost 1.4 billion Catholics will head to Luxembourg on Sept. 26 and travel on to Belgium the same day, staying until Sept. 29, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni ...