.- As Pope Benedict's March 23-25 visit to Mexico nears, local journalist Valentina Alazraki praised the Pope's strong leadership and willingness to directly address Church problems.
In remarks to CNA, the prominent reporter noted his “laudable efforts to help the Church overcome the different crises she is facing.”
Alazraki – who covered the conclave that elected Benedict XVI and is currently the Vatican correspondent for the Mexican network Televisa – also emphasized her great respect for the Pope.
“He is an extremely intelligent man who writes in a truly extraordinary way, and he expresses himself in a very intelligent way in his homilies and speeches,” she said. “He is a great teacher and has great patience, sobriety and intellectual and human poise.”
Alazraki recalled accompanying Pope John Paul II on 100 apostolic trips and traveling with Benedict XVI on twenty of his, saying the press receives “first-class treatment” aboard the papal plane.
She noted that while the Pope’s menu “is a little bit different because of his health, our menu is almost the same as that of the papal entourage.”
The Pope has a special section on the papal jet where he can rest, she added, and from there he emerges to meet with journalists during the flight.
“He almost always answers reporters’ questions in Italian, so that the majority can understand him, regardless of the language in which the question was posed,” she said.
Alazraki noted that Blessed John Paul II was the first pontiff to hold a press conference onboard a plane. “In the history of the Popes, there had never been a press conference. John Paul II walked the entire cabin and answered each reporter’s questions, in their own language as well.”
She said Pope Benedict's visit to Mexico will be instrumental in helping Mexicans overcome pessimism, despair and fear over the intense violence that is affecting the country.
“I pray that this visit will bring hope to the people, not only of our country but of the entire world. I am convinced that through this visit to Mexico, Mexicans will be able to become close to Benedict XVI and to understand and love him,” she said.