.- After the papal plane landed in Guanajuato, Mexico this afternoon, Pope Benedict told the enthusiastic crowds that he arrives to their country as a “pilgrim of faith, hope and of love.”
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 “act as missionaries” in order to contribute to “a respectful and peaceful coexistence” which comes from “the incomparable dignity of every human being” and which “no one has the right to disregard.”
“This dignity,” he emphasized, “is expressed especially in the fundamental right to freedom of religion.”
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 “practical commitment” to build a “better world.”
From 2006 to 2011, the Mexican government estimated that over 47,000 citizens have been killed in drug-related violence.
He prayed especially for “those who suffer” due to “all forms of violence,” but said that he knew he was in a country “which is proud of its hospitality and wishes no one to feel unwelcome.”
Pope Benedict was especially grateful to God “for allowing me to realize the desire” that he had for a long time to finally visit the “great nation” of Mexico.
He said that he hoped even those Mexicans who are, “far from their homeland” may not “lose the wish to see it growth in harmony and in authentic integral development.”
In recent years, many of the Latin American countries have celebrated their bicentennial anniversaries of independence. The Virgin Mary, who's intercession was “invoked fervently” showed the people that “the Lord loves all people and gave himself for them without distinction.”
The Pope invoked the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the people of Mexico to “be true to the faith which you have received.”
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.