Trip Will Be Benedict’s Third to Latin America

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Benedict XVI will meet with Cuban President Raul Castro, Mexican President Felipe Calderon and bishops and Catholics from the region when he visits Mexico and Cuba in late March.

He will also greet bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean as well as pray at the shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre in Cuba.

It will be his third visit to the Americas after the United States in 2008 and Brazil in 2007.

After a 14-hour flight from Rome to Mexico, the pope is scheduled to be in Leon, Mexico, March 23-26.  After a three-and-a-half-hour flight to Cuba, he will be in

Santiago de Cuba and Havana March 26-28.­­­­ He will arrive back in Rome after a 10-hour flight March 29.

Cuban Patroness’ 400th Anniversary
During his trip, Pope Benedict will celebrate three outdoor Masses, including one marking the 400th anniversary of the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre, patroness of Cuba.

In Mexico, he will have a special meeting with children and a vespers service with bishops from Latin America, and in Cuba he will make a private visit to the shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.