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.
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.
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.”
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.