President Enrique Peña Nieto on Saturday announced that Pope Francis has accepted an invitation to visit Mexico.
“Without doubt, this is cause for great joy,” President Peña Nieto declared after telling reporters the Pope “has accepted the invitation.”
The president made the announcement after his private meeting with the pontiff in the Apostolic Palace.
The dates for the visit are not known, but could come near the Pope’s hoped-for visit to Philadelphia for the World Meeting for Families in late September 2015. Such a visit to the U.S. has not been confirmed by the Vatican.
President Peña Nieto said he told the Pope that the people of Mexico are mostly Catholic. The Pope reportedly replied “they are Catholic but especially Guadalupano,” referring to their devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The Pope also said that he has “a special affection for the Mexican people,” the Mexican president added.
The Mexican president and the Pope’s 25-minute private meeting discussed constitutional reform, especially as it relates to religious freedom.
President Peña Nieto said the Mexican government reaffirmed an interest in “a respectful and cordial relationship with the Vatican” and said that Mexico’s nature as a secular state “does not mean an anti-religious state.”
Pope Francis also voiced concern about migrants, both those entering Mexico from Central America and those entering the U.S. from Mexico.