.- After the papal plane landed in Guanajuato, Mexico this afternoon, Pope Benedict told the enthusiastic crowds that he arrives to their country as a âpilgrim of faith, hope and of love.â
During his official welcome address at the beginning of his March 23-26 visit, the Pope said to those gathered that he wished to strengthen and encourage those who believe in Christ.
He urged local Catholics to âact as missionariesâ in order to contribute to âa respectful and peaceful coexistenceâ which comes from âthe incomparable dignity of every human beingâ and which âno one has the right to disregard.â
âThis dignity,â he emphasized, âis expressed especially in the fundamental right to freedom of religion.â
Noting recent violence that has plagued the area, the Pope called on the people of Mexico and all of Latin America to live out their hope in God in order to make a âpractical commitmentâ to build a âbetter world.â
From 2006 to 2011, the Mexican government estimated that over 47,000 citizens have been killed in drug-related violence.
He prayed especially for âthose who sufferâ due to âall forms of violence,â but said that he knew he was in a country âwhich is proud of its hospitality and wishes no one to feel unwelcome.â
Pope Benedict was especially grateful to God âfor allowing me to realize the desireâ that he had for a long time to finally visit the âgreat nationâ of Mexico.
He said that he hoped even those Mexicans who are, âfar from their homelandâ may not âlose the wish to see it growth in harmony and in authentic integral development.â
In recent years, many of the Latin American countries have celebrated their bicentennial anniversaries of independence. The Virgin Mary, who's intercession was âinvoked ferventlyâ showed the people that âthe Lord loves all people and gave himself for them without distinction.â
The Pope invoked the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the people of Mexico to âbe true to the faith which you have received.â
Of his 23 foreign visits since his election in 2005, this is the first trip to Latin America. The Pope will remain in Mexico until March 26, after which he will travel to Cuba before returning to Rome on March 29.