The National Catholic Review
Feb 12 2016 - 12:53pm | The Editors

On Feb. 12, Pope Francis touched down at Havana's José Martí International airport for his historic first meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. It was a brief but highly significant stop ahead of his visit to Mexico, from Feb. 12 to 18. America's Vatican correspondent Gerard O'Connell will be traveling with the pope and chief correspondent Kevin Clarke and associate editor Olga Segura will provide on-the-ground coverage of the papal Masses and events throughout the week. Check back here for daily updates, analysis and video. 

Live Coverage

Pope Francis called for “conversion” six times in his homily at Mass in Ciudad Juarez, on the border with the United States, on the last day of his visit to Mexico.
In a moment which will surely reverberate across the border, Pope Francis paused at the border fence between Mexico and the United States this afternoon to pray for migrants who have lost their lives making the perilous journey north.
Pope Francis said, “I want to reiterate once more the confidence that Jesus urges us to have: the mercy that embraces everyone and is found in every corner of the world. There is no place beyond the reach of his mercy, no space or person it cannot touch.
In a fiery speech to Mexico’s young people in Morelia, the city where the country’s drug wars, with its related violence, started, Pope Francis hit hard against the drug cartels that exploit and destroy their lives. 
Before leading the liturgy, Pope Francis plans what will no doubt be a controversial moment of joint prayer and a wreath laying for some 6,000 people who died attempting a desert crossing into the United States.
Resignation “not only terrifies us” but also “entrenches us in our ‘sacristies’ and false securities” and “prevents us from proclaiming, but also inhibits our giving praise.”  
Pope Francis affirmed the right of Mexico’s 11 million indigenous people to live in a land “where oppression, mistreatment and humiliation are not the currency of the day.” 

His presence in this city today was a message to the indigenous communities here; Pope Francis has heard their suffering and he has said, “Enough.”
Pope Francis sought to shake up Mexico’s bishops on his first morning here with a powerful, challenging speech, in which he called on them to live as humble pastors, “not princes,” to be close to the poor and oppressed, and to prophetically denounce the drug trade and other evils of society.
Mexico’s richness is its young people, Pope Francis told the nation’s assembled political leadership at the National Palace in Mexico City today. 
"The most common abuses that we are documenting and hearing about … are torture, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions.”
“We spoke together as brothers, we spoke freely and with frankness about the things that concern us. We didn’t mince words,” he stated.
Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill walked toward each other smiling, then embraced and kissed each other three times with warmth and emotion, as they met for the first time ever, in a lounge at Havana’s José Martí  International airport, at 2:26 p.m. (local time) on Feb 12.
“I have Russia and China in my heart,” Pope Francis said on the flight from Rome to Havana and Mexico City on Feb. 12. He also had words of praise for German Chancellor Angela Merkel and described her as “a person of good will.”


'Santa Muerte,' A Worrying Challenge to the Church in Mexico, Kevin Clarke

Pope Francis said he was "particularly concerned" by those who "praise illusions and embrace their macabre symbols to commercialize death in exchange for money.”

“And a larger majority of Mexicans have remained tied to their Catholic faith compared with people in many other Latin American countries,” Pew researchers say. 
“Things that seemed impossible became possible, so we can be confident that even the difficulties between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches can eventually be addressed in a spirit of friendship and mutual acceptance, and be resolved.”
The Pope in Mexico, The Editors
Sharing a 2,000-mile border and over 200 years of history, the people of Mexico and the United States are deeply interconnected in ways that are often lost in our intractable and shortsighted debates over immigration.
Mexico MissionGerard O'Connell
Pope Francis comes as “a missionary of mercy and peace” on his fourth trip to Latin America, to a country that according to the nuncio is “living through a transition” and to a “secularized” society in a profound crisis. 


Two days before Pope Francis' main event in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, the Diocese of El Paso was coordinating the final touches to its own two main papal events.
Pope Francis is celebrating Mexico's Indians with a visit to Chiapas state, a center of indigenous culture, where he will preside over a Mass in three native languages thanks to a new Vatican decree approving their use in liturgy.
Pope Francis heads into the capital's crime-ridden suburb of Ecatepec on Sunday to see firsthand the reality of the Mexican "periphery."
Pope Francis fulfilled his much-desired wish to pray in silence before the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Nearly four decades after St. John Paul II began his globe-trotting papacy in Mexico, Francis too will begin his trip by praying before the Virgin of Guadalupe shrine. 
“Drug trafficking, pedophilia and people taking financial advantage of believers won’t stop just because the pope says those things are bad.”
Ciudad Juarez was once murder capital of the world, an image now out-of-date, according to statistics from the citizen-run Security Roundtable of Ciudad Juarez, which shows a 92 percent decline in the homicide rate since 2010.
After almost three decades of tense Catholic-Russian Orthodox relations, Pope Francis will meet Patriarch Kirill of Moscow Feb. 12 in Cuba on the pope's way to Mexico.

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