Pope Benedict XVI addresses thousands in Mexico

He is expected in Cuba to recharge faith, urge reform.

Thousands of people gathered in the city of Guanajuato, Mexico as Pope Benedict XVI delivered a message to the children of Mexico.Many waved the gold and white flags of the Vatican, which depict the keys of Saint Peter and the Papal Tiara, a golden crown worn by the Pope during his coronation, The Telegraph informs. “In these moments, I would like all the children of Mexico to know this, especially those who have had to bear the burden of suffering, abandonment, violence or hunger, which in recent months, because of drought, has made itself strongly felt in some regions,” he told the crowd. “That is why I wish to lift up my voice, inviting everyone to protect and to care for our children, so that nothing may extinguish their smile, but that they may live in peace and look to the future with confidence. You, my dear young friends, are not alone. You can count on the help of Christ and his Church,” the Pope said.The central Mexican colonial city’s Plaza of Peace stands next to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato, which was brightly lit up for the occasion. After his speech, small children released white doves to symbolise peace.On the other hand, the preparations for Pope Benedict XVI’s three-day visit to Cuba have produced some unusual sights and sounds there lately, npr reports.A church van with a megaphone drove around one Havana neighborhood recently, calling Cubans out of their homes to a gathering in a nearby park, with the message that God loves them. The number of churchgoing Catholics on the island is growing again, but it remains less than 10 percent, and the call to gather was a rare exception to the Communist government’s ban on public acts of religious proselytism.Benedict’s will be the first papal visit to the island since John Paul II’s historic trip in 1998. The pope will lead an outdoor Mass on Wednesday in Havana’s huge Plaza of the Revolution, and workers there have been building a special stage under the smoldering gaze of Che Guevara, whose likeness stares down from the side of government offices.Cuba has come a long way from the religious persecutions of the past, but the church is still not allowed to have its own schools or television channel. Still, church spokesman Orlando Marquez says the pope’s visit is a clear show of support for its growing role as advocate for greater freedom and as a mediator in Cuba’s political divisions.Benedict will arrive from Mexico in eastern Cuba on Monday for a large Mass there. He’ll visit the shrine of Cuba’s patron saint the following day, then travel to Havana for a private meeting with Raul Castro. Vatican officials say that if Fidel Castro wants to see the pope as well, Benedict will be available.

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