.- Mexico's ambassador to the Holy See says he is awaiting the announcement of the dates of a visit to the country by Pope Francis, after the Holy Father accepted an invitation from Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto.
"For us, the Pope's visit would be a visit to Latin America,” Mariano Palacios Alcocer told CNA June 12 in an interview at Mexico's embassy to the Holy See.
“At the same time, it would be an opportunity to address continental issues related to the flow, transit, and migration of persons."
The veneration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which emerged in Mexico and has spread to all of America, Palacios said, has united all the inhabitants of Latin America.
"She is Empress of the American continent. His Holiness John Paul II declared it so during one of his visits. For us, then, the Pope's visit would be a visit to Latin America, and to the continent as well."
Pena met Pope Francis for a private audience at the Vatican June 7, and at that time invited him to Mexico.
“This was the first visit a president of Mexico has made alone to the Holy See without contacting Italian authorities,” Palacios commented.
“Therefore the pontiff's visit would be part of the reciprocity for the president's visit, but it would also have a marked spiritual and pastoral aspect in light of high investiture he holds as inheritor of the Petrine ministry."
He added that the papal visit to Mexico would be a sign of the strengthening of the "truly peculiar relationship between the Holy See and Mexico."
During Pena's meeting with the Pope, they discussed constitutional reform in Mexico, particularly regarding religious freedom. Pena also told reporters after the meeting that Pope Francis has “a special affection for the Mexican people,” and that he said “they are Catholic, but especially Guadalupano.”
Palacios explained that “we will respectfully listen to the proposal made by the Holy See, and the date that they determine will be welcomed by Mexico, and it will accept the date chosen for His Holiness' schedule as an appropriate date.”
A possible trip to Mexico could coincide with a papal visit to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families, being held Sept. 22-27, 2015.
Although the Vatican has not officially confirmed that trip, it is widely expected the Holy Father will attend the event.
"This is a hypothesis, and if it were the case, Mexico would be willing to receive His Holiness on those or any other dates that are determined," Palacios said.