MEXICO CITY — Pope Francis will visit the Mexican capital, Chiapas, Chihuahua and Michoacan early next year, Mexico’s foreign relations secretary announced Wednesday Nov. 11.
The Associated Press reports that Foreign Relations Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu said Francis’ stops in Chiapas, Chihuahua and Michoacán will present opportunities for the pontiff to touch on issues he has emphasized, such as poverty, migration and support for indigenous communities.
Chiapas, on Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala, is one of Mexico’s poorest states, heavily indigenous and a key migratory corridor for Central Americans traveling north to the United States. It has also seen rising rates of conversions to evangelical churches in recent years.
Chihuahua, in the north, also sees many thousands of people passing through each year trying to cross the border into Texas. Francis, who visited the United States in September, has said he would have liked to have entered the country from Mexico as a gesture of solidarity with migrants, but was unable to fit it into his schedule.
Michoacán, in southwestern Mexico, is a conservative state that historically has had a high percentage of Catholic residents. In recent years it has also been a flashpoint for severe drug cartel violence.
Mexican Cardinal Norberto Rivera said recently that the pope would arrive Feb. 12, but that date has not been confirmed by the Vatican.
Mexico is home to more Roman Catholics than any other Spanish-speaking country. Benedict XVI was the last pope to visit, in 2012.
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