DAILY CATHOLIC     FRI-SAT-SUN     January 15, 1999     vol. 10, no. 10

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- The Vatican has released final details of the schedule for the trip by Pope John Paul II to Mexico and the United States, January 22-28. The Pope's 85th voyage outside Italy will include a four-day stay in Mexico and one full day in St. Louis, Missouri.

          The fundamental reason for the trip is the official promulgation of the Holy Father's apostolic exhortation concluding the work of the Synod of the Americas. That Synod met in Rome from November 16 to December 12, 1997, with 300 bishops and other experts from North and South America participating.

          The Synod had strongly recommended Mexico as the site for the official signing of the apostolic exhortation, and Pope John Paul enthusiastically accepted that recommendation. The signing ceremony will take place on January 22-- the day of the Pope's arrival in Mexico-- at the sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Americas. On the following day the Holy Father will preside there at a Mass marking the official conclusion of the Synod.

          One of the themes of the Synod discussion-- a theme which is expected to figure prominently in the new papal document-- is the fundamental unity between North and South America. That theme may also have contributed to the Pope's decision to visit the United States before returning to Rome; he is expected to urge greater solidarity between North and South, and a new evangelization of the entire American hemisphere, on the eve of the third Christian millennium.

          Other themes which figured prominently in the Synod discussions included the need to combat poverty and drug traffic, to ease the difficulties of Indian tribes, and to curb political corruption and violence. The Pope is also likely to address the needs of the people in Central America whose homes were devastated by Hurricane Mitch.

          The Pope's trip to Mexico will take place exactly 20 years after his first pastoral voyage there, which began on January 25, 1979. At the time he spoke about the difficulties posed by liberation theology. He also traveled to Mexico in May 1990, for the beatification of Juan Diego, the Indian to whom the Virgin Mary appeared at Guadalupe in 1531. And he stopped in Mexico again in 1993 as he traveled to Denver for the World Youth Day celebrations.

          During that span of years, relations between Mexico and the Holy See have improved markedly. In 1979 the Pontiff encountered a deeply anti-clerical government-- the successor of the Mexican regime which had hunted and jailed Catholic priests earlier in this century. But that official anti-Catholicism has waned in Mexico, to the extent that the government began exchanging envoys with the Holy See in 1990, and since 1993 these envoys have enjoyed the status of fully accredited ambassadors. In 1992 Mexican law was altered to recognize the juridical status of the Catholic Church. An estimated 92 percent of Mexico's 96 million people are Catholics.

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

January 15-17, 1999       volume 10, no. 10


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