Although the Vatican said that a January trip was "probable," there was no formal confirmation of the dates for the visit. The timing of that trip could be influenced by different factors, including the process of editing the apostolic exhortation.
During the American Synod, which was held in Rome in November and December 1997, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City invited the Holy Father to visit Mexico, to pray at the sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and to issue the apostolic exhortation there. His suggestion was greeted with enthusiasm by the other American bishops.
The January trip would be the fourth visit by Pope John Paul to Mexico. He previously traveled there in January 1979, May 1990, and August 1993.