By David Agren, By David Agren
SILAO, Mexico (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI bade Mexico a warm "adios,"
emphasizing he meant, "Remain with God," concluding a trip marked by
outpourings of faith and affection from people in the world's second-most
populous Catholic country.
"I leave full of unforgettable experiences, not the least of which are the
innumerable courtesies and signs of affection that I've received," Pope
Benedict said March 26 in his closing remarks before departing for Cuba.
used his departure remarks to exhort Mexicans "to be good citizens,
conscious of their responsibility to be concerned for the good of all, both in
their personal lives and throughout society."
the name of millions of Mexicans, thank you for a visit we will never forget,"
Mexican President Felipe Calderon said at the departure ceremony.
his four-day trip, Pope Benedict received the keys to the cities of Leon and
Guanajuato, met with Calderon and celebrated Mass for a crowd that the
Guanajuato state government estimated at 640,000. He also greeted Mexicans who
lost loved ones to violence.
Benedict recognized the outpourings of affection. The evening of March 25, he
emerged from Leon's Miraflores College, where he was staying, to salute the
assembled masses and be serenaded by mariachis in bone-white cowboy costumes.
have I been received with such enthusiasm. Now I can say that Mexico is going
to always stay in my heart," Pope Benedict said in comments translated by
his ambassador to Mexico, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, and broadcast on
crowds lined streets in the municipalities of Leon, Silao and Guanajuato for
all of Pope Benedict's movements. Many chanted, "Benedict, brother, you're
now Mexican," reflecting the grand affection shown for the pope, who
Mexican and foreign media outlets surmised in stories was less beloved in the
country than his predecessor, Blessed John Paul II.
could be the only opportunity" to see the pope, said Benito Urrutia, an
engineer working in the footwear industry underpinning the Leon economy.
"It's an important event, being close to the representative of
came here for the love of the pope and to receive his blessing," added
artisan Irma Palomino, who began traveling at 4 a.m. and walked more than three
miles uphill to attend the March 25 Mass.
national media gave plenty of coverage to politics during the visit and the
"miracle" of uniting the country's three main presidential candidates
at the Mass, along with Calderon and his predecessor, President Vicente Fox, a
visit came as Mexico's Catholic population continues a gradual decline,
measuring 84 percent in the 2010 survey. Auxiliary Bishop Victor Rodriguez
Gomez of Texcoco expressed concern with the trend, but said the nearly 5
percent of Mexicans declaring no religious affiliation should be alarming to
Catholic News Service.
– from Catholic News Service