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A pope of ironies in Cuba and Mexico

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Analysis

Although Pope Benedict XVI’s March 23-28 outing to Mexico and Cuba officially constituted one voyage, in reality it was a tale of two trips. In Cuba, the pontiff was at his most political, engaging in a delicate and controversial tête-à-tête with the Castro regime; in Mexico, Benedict instead focused on the pastoral, featuring a gentle debunking of clericalism.

Benedict’s six-day journey, which took him to the León archdiocese in Mexico and Santiago and Havana in Cuba, was the 23rd foreign outing of his papacy, but his first to Spanish-speaking Latin America. (The pontiff visited Brazil in 2007.)

At Holy Thursday Mass, pope criticizes dissent from church teachings

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VATICAN CITY -- During a Mass in which priests renew their promises of fidelity to Christ, Pope Benedict XVI firmly criticized dissent from church teachings and disobedience of God's will as illegitimate pathways toward reform and renewal.

Surrounded by more than 1,600 priests, bishops and cardinals, the pope cautioned against calls for women's ordination, saying such campaigns seemed more "a desperate push" to fulfill one's own preferences rather than a sincere attempt to conform one's life more closely to Christ.

Cuban dissidents attend Mass, hold protest, day before pope's arrival

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HAVANA (CNS) -- The eyes and the prayers of parishioners in Havana's St. Rita of Cascia Church were focused on the 19 catechumens who will be baptized at Easter. Only the large group of reporters was fixated on the 35 women dressed all in white sitting near the front.

But after the Mass March 25, while parishioners visited with each other and with their pastor, the Ladies in White -- the "Damas de Blanco" -- recited the Hail Mary in the back of the church, and then began their weekly protest march along the main street outside.

Pope greets Mexicans affected by notorious crimes

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GUANAJUATO CITY, Mexico (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI greeted Mexicans who lost loved ones in some of the country's most notorious crimes, events that horrified Mexico and generated international headlines.

They were among people the pope greeted privately March 24 following his public appearance in the city of Guanajuato. No details were provided, although the office of President Felipe Calderon issued a list of the eight attendees and crimes that affected them.

Trust in God to help change society, pope says in Mexico's heartland

SILAO, Mexico (CNS) -- Celebrating Mass in the Catholic heartland of Mexico, Pope Benedict XVI told a nation and a continent suffering from poverty, corruption and violence, to trust in God and the intercession of Mary to help them bring about a "more just and fraternal society."

"When addressing the deeper dimension of personal and community life, human strategies will not suffice to save us," the pope said in his homily during the outdoor Mass at Guanajuato Bicentennial Park March 25, the second full day of his second papal visit to Latin America. "We must have recourse to the one who alone can give life in its fullness, because he is the essence of life and its author."

Ratzinger altered canon law to soften Maciel punishment, book argues

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On Saturday, as Pope Benedict XVI makes the first appearance on his March 23-28 trip to Mexico and Cuba, three authors will hold a news conference in the same city, Leon, Mexico, discussing a book that quotes Vatican files on the pedophilia and drug abuse accusations that trailed Fr. Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legion of Christ, for decades until his death in 2008.

Pope arrives in Mexico as 'pilgrim of faith, of hope, and of love'

SILAO, Mexico (CNS) -- Arriving in Mexico on his second papal visit to Latin America March 23, Pope Benedict XVI said he came as a "pilgrim of faith, of hope, and of love," promoting the cause of religious freedom, social progress and the Catholic Church's charitable works.

Bells tolled and the assembled crowd cheered as Pope Benedict XVI appeared through the door of his Alitalia plane at Guanajuato Internal Airport in central Mexico. He was greeted by Mexican President Felipe Calderon and other dignitaries, including Archbishop Jose Martin Rabago of Leon and Archbishop Carlos Aguilar Retes of Tlalnepantla, president of the Mexican bishops' conference and the Latin American bishops' council, CELAM.

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August 1-14, 2014

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