Friday, March 23, 2012

Pope arrives in Mexico to warm welcome, tackling topic of drug violence
Reuters Pictures

From the A.P. via The Washington Post:

LEON, Mexico — Pope Benedict XVI landed in Mexico on Friday to throngs of faithful who gathered at the tarmac and lined more than 20 miles of his route into the city shouting the ultimate welcome: “Benedict, brother, you are now Mexican.”

Many thought such a warm reception, complete with folkloric dance and mariachis, would not greet a pope some consider distant and academic. But the world’s largest Roman Catholic, Spanish-speaking country showed Benedict the same affection as they did to his predecessor, John Paul II, who was dubbed “Mexico’s pope” after making five trips to the country.

“This is a proud country of hospitality, and nobody feels like a stranger in your land,” the pope said upon landing to wild cheers. “I knew that, now I see it and now I feel it in my heart.”

After his Alitalia flight landed, the streets of Leon where the pope will stay took on a carnival atmosphere, with entire blocks exploding in yellow confetti as he passed in his bulletproof popemobile along the 20-mile (32-kilomter) route from the airport.

“He came to change all Mexicans,” said Maria del Rosario Tamayo Villanueva, who waited to see the pope despite being paralyzed in both legs since childhood. “It was important to come to see him. He is a gift from God.”

Earlier on the 14-hour flight from Rome, Benedict called on Mexicans to conquer an “idolatry of money” that feeds drug violence and urged Cuba, where he heads on Monday, to leave behind a Marxism that “no longer responds to reality...”

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