The following comes from a February 12 Washington Post article by Rosie Scammell:
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ nearly weeklong tour of Mexico will see the pontiff raise key themes of his papacy as well as issues related to tense national politics in Mexico and even the U.S. presidential race.
The papal plane departed Rome shortly after sunrise [today], earlier than expected because of the surprise stopover in Cuba announced last week.
The touchdown in Havana is for a meeting with Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, a potentially groundbreaking step toward healing ties between Eastern and Western Christianity that were broken nearly 1,000 years ago.
After little more than three hours in Cuba for the historic talks, Francis will continue his journey to Mexico City for a whistle-stop tour that will include celebrating Mass at the U.S. border.
The pope’s carefully crafted itinerary follows his wish to speak first to those on the margins. That’s why he will fly to the southern state of Chiapas to meet with the indigenous community and will also meet with young people in Morelia, in central Mexico, as well as patients at a children’s hospital in the capital.
The pontiff’s impact on the political scene will more likely come with his visit to Ciudad Juarez on the border with Texas, a regular crossing point for immigrants.
“His Mass at the border is for me the highlight of the trip, because his concern for migrants, refugees and undocumented persons has marked his papacy from the beginning,” said the Rev. Kevin O’Brien, vice president for mission and ministry at Georgetown University.
“There are Catholics (in the U.S.) who are voting and I hope they listen to what the pope says in Juarez,” he said.
Yet many candidates in the U.S. presidential campaign, especially on the Republican side, take a much different view of immigrants than does the pope, with some candidates proposing sharp restrictions or the building of a more extensive border wall.
Leading GOP candidate Donald Trump has been one of the most outspoken opponents of immigration, and late Thursday in an interview on Fox News he blasted Francis as a “very political person” for visiting the border area.