VATICAN CITY, 3 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday the episcopal conferences of Mexico and Cuba published separate press communiques announcing details of Benedict XVI's forthcoming visit to those countries, due to take place from 23 to 28 March. The Holy Father had expressed his intention to make an apostolic trip to Mexico and Cuba during a Mass celebrated in the Vatican Basilica on 12 December, Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron of Latin America.
The note issued by the Conference of the Mexican Episcopate explains that the Pope will arrive at the airport of Leon in the State of Guanajuato on the afternoon of Friday 23 March. He will be greeted there by Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, president of Mexico, by members of the episcopal conference and by Archbishop Jose Guadalupe Martin of Leon. During his stay, the Holy Father will lodge in the residence of the Miraflores College in Leon.
On Saturday 24 March, he will travel to the Casa del Conde Rul in the city of Guanajuato, the headquarters of the State Government, where he will hold an official meeting with President Calderon Hinojosa. After the meeting the Pope will greet and bless children and faithful gathered in the city's Plaza de la Paz.
On the morning of Sunday 25 March Benedict XVI will preside at Mass in the Parque Bicentenario in the municipality of Silao, at the foot of hill known as the Cerro del Cubilete at the top of which is a statue of Christ the King. Following the ceremony he is due to meet with representatives from the ninety-one dioceses of Mexico. That evening the Holy Father will preside at Vespers in the cathedral of Leon with Mexican bishops and representatives of other Latin American episcopates, to whom he will address a message.
On the morning of Monday 26 March, the Pope will take his official leave of the civil and religious authorities of Mexico at the airport of Leon, before flying to Cuba.
The note published by the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba explains that the Pope is due to arrive in Santiago de Cuba in the early afternoon of 26 March. He will be welcomed by Raul Castro, president of Cuba, by members of the episcopal conference and by Archbishop Dionisio Garcia Ibanez of Santiago. The Holy Father will then travel by open-top car to the Plaza de la Revolucion where he will celebrate Mass for the Solemnity of the Annunciation. After the ceremony, the Pope will move on to the nearby mining town of El Cobre where he will lodge in a residence for priests.
On the morning of Tuesday 27 March the Holy Father will make a private visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity where he will pray before the image of the patron of Cuba. He will then go to the airport of Santiago to fly to the capital city Havana, where he is due to arrive at midday. He will be welcomed there by Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of Havana and by other religious and civil authorities. That afternoon the Pope will hold an official meeting with President Castro, then meet with Cuban bishops in the apostolic nunciature.
On the morning of Wednesday 28 March, the Pope will preside at Mass in the Plaza de la Revolucion "Jose Marti". In the early afternoon he will be taken by open-top car to the airport of Havana were, following the departure ceremony, he will board his return flight for Rome.
PV-MEXICO:CUBA/ VIS 20120103 (600)