Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Cuba and Mexico in March of this year on an apostolic visit to the two traditionally Catholic nations. The trip will occur before Easter this year.

The Pope's journey was confirmed following consultations with the government of Mexico and the Catholic Bishops Conference of that country. The Pope will arrive in Guanajuato State on the evening of March 23, where he will be received by Mexican President Felipe Calderon at the Leon airport. The two will have an official meeting the following evening, also in Guanajuato. The Pope will also bless the faithful gathered that evening in the Plaza de la Paz.

On the morning of March 25, will celebrate a Mass  at Bicentennial Park in the town of Silao at the foot of Mount Cubilete. On the summit of Cubilete is a monument to Christ the King. It was in Guanajuato, especially, that Catholics resisted the severe anti-Catholic and anti-clerical excesses of the Mexican government in the 1920s. 'Viva Cristo Rey' - Long Live Christ the King - was the battle cry of Mexicans who fought against the government and eventually wrested some modicum of freedom of religion. Anti-Catholic strictures would continue in Mexico until the 1990s.

 On the afternoon of March 25, Pope Benedict will visit the Cathedral of Leon for Vespers Prayer and to deliver his message to all the Bishops of Mexico and the representatives of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean gathered there.  "Let us pray together to Our Lady of Guadalupe for Pope Benedict XVI's first apostolic visit to Mexico, which is reason for hope and the confirmation of faith in the Lord," concluded the statement signed by the President of Bishops' Conference of Mexico, Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, and Conference Secretary General Auxiliary Bishop Victor Rene Rodriguez Gomez, of Texcoco. 

On in the morning of March 26, the Pope will continue his journey by flying to Santiago de Cuba, the second-largest city of Cuba.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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