A Catholic Church official announced Sunday that Pope Francis will arrive in Mexico on February 12 to begin his much-anticipated eight-day visit, according to The Telegraph. During the visit, the pope is expected to address the violence in Mexico and immigration.
Mexican Cardinal Norberto Rivera didn’t provide any more details about the visit other than to announce the date, and Archdiocese spokesman Carlos Villa Roiz confirmed Rivera’s comments.
Mexico is a heavily Catholic country, and a pope’s visit is always an enormous newsmaker, attracting enormous crowds wherever the pontiff is scheduled to visit. The last papal visit was Pope Benedict XVI’s trip in 2012, which drew a reaction from some drug cartels prior to his trip. The Knights Templar cartel displayed a banner in Guanajuato state—home to the city of León, the visit site—that read:
“We just want to warn that we do not want more groups in the state of Guanajuato. Confrontations will be inevitable. You have been warned, New Generation, we want Guanajuato in Peace, so don’t think about moving in and much less causing violence, precisely at this time when His Holiness Benedict XVI is coming.”
The warning was directed at the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), which at the time was only beginning to expand its presence in the area and the Knights’ stronghold in the neighboring state of Michoacán. According to The Huffington Post, the banner was hung a few weeks after the local Roman Catholic archdiocese had issued a public plea to drug gangs not to mar the Pope’s visit with violence:
“To those who do evil, if my words can reach them, I would tell them to realize that we are living times of grace and peace, and that they should help by allowing all these people to come to an event that is totally respectable, and not to take advantage to do anything that could lead to an experience of mourning and death.”
Pope Francis is also expected to address northbound immigration in Latin America, and specifically in Mexico. A “son of immigrants” from Argentina, the pontiff referred to immigration several times during his recent visit to the US. While in Philadelphia, he said to the audience in Spanish:
“Many of you have immigrated to this country at great personal cost, but in the hope of building a new life. Do not be discouraged by whatever challenges and hardships you face… Please do not be ashamed of your traditions. Do not forget the lessons you learned from your elders, which are something you can bring to enrich the life of this American land. I repeat, do not be ashamed of what is part of you, your lifeblood. You are called to be responsible citizens and to contribute, like others who with so much strength did before you . . . fruitfully to the life of the communities in which you live.”
Pope Francis is known to have a very liberal view of illegal immigration, calling out the US government to invoke the Golden Rule in demanding generosity toward the millions of Central and South Americans seeking to come to the country. According to The Telegraph, he said he wanted to enter the US from Mexico in a sign of solidarity with migrants during his recent US trip, but that the schedule didn’t allow for it. Some Mexican church officials are hoping the pope will tour the US border region.
Sylvia Longmire is a border security expert and Contributing Editor for Breitbart Texas. You can read more about cross-border issues in her latest book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer.