Pope Benedict XVI Travels to Mexico and Cuba in Inaugural Visits to Both Countries (Video)

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On Friday, Pope Benedict XVI left Rome to visit Mexico on the start of a six-day trip that will also take him to Cuba.

The first day's itinerary of this unprecedented papal visit was rigorous for the 84-year-old pontiff, with his arrival in Leon in the Mexican state of Guanajuato.

A welcome ceremony that was waiting to greet Pope Benedict was spearheaded by Mexican President Felipe Calderon while augmented with a lot of culturally collect pomp and circumstance including a mariachi band that entertained on this sunny day south of the border.

Meanwhile, thousands of young pilgrims and entire families had been waiting for this referred man. The bulk of the well wishers had arrived from other areas of Mexico as well as from California. Then, when the pope was initially spotted, the LA Times reported that the massive crowd shouted in unison, "Benedict, brother, you are now Mexican!"

Later, even more cheers came from hordes of supporters thrilled when they set their collective eyes on Pope Benedict as he rode via the armor plated popemobile from the airport to the center of town, about a 20-mile ride. Crowds lined the streets all the way from the starting point to the end of the line.

That said, before the official greeting took place, Pope Benedict talked with reporters to share his feelings about what this religious leader perceives is an escalating drug war in the country in which he is now visiting.

The pontif made his thoughts clear while speaking from the papal plane, an Alitalia jet. He addressed the accompanying journalists, telling them, "We must do whatever is possible to combat this destructive evil against humanity and our youth."

This statement was in reference to the deaths of some 50,000 that have occurred in the past five years as a result of violent conflict between not only opposing drug cartels.

The pope continued with an even stronger sentiment, stating, "It is the responsibility of the [Catholic] Church to educate consciences, to teach moral responsibility and to unmask the evil, to unmask this idolatry of money which enslaves man, to unmask the false promises, the lies, the fraud that is behind drugs."

No doubt Pope Benedict will continue to explore a way to fight this dire situation in Mexico as he continues speaking and seeking answers during his three-day visit.

On Saturday, Pope Benedict will attend mass at the chapel of Leon's Miraflora College, the same place as where the pope is staying. He will also meet once again with President Calderon and will greet Mexican children in Guantajuato's Peace Square, according to his official itinerary.

Sunday, the German-born Holy Father will be at Mass held at Leon's Bicentennial Park that is expected to bring in an audience of 300,000. The location at the foot of the Cubliete mountains is already filled with campers waiting to be with the pontiff.

Then, on Sunday evening, the pope is scheduled to participate with Mexican and other Latin American bishops in Leon's cathedral.

And then on Monday, the Bishop of Rome will say farewell to Mexico as he leaves for Cuba where he will be greeted by Castro in Santiago de Cuba. This will be the first time in 14 years that any pope will have visited the island nation.

After the airport formalities, Pope Benedict will deliver a sermon at an outdoor mass. This religious gathering will mark the 400th anniversary of the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre in Antonio Maceo Revolution Square.

Although Pope Benedict XVI was welcomed with open arms in Mexico, this may not be true when he travels to Cuba after he commented that Marxism is no longer working there. What will transpire will certainly be interesting so stay tuned.

Image: Wikipedia

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