Vatican updates papal itinerary for Cuba, Mexico visit

IMAGE: CNS photo/Henry Romero, Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis is scheduled to have more
than two hours alone with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow in Cuba
in addition to signing a declaration with the patriarch before flying on to
Mexico for a Feb. 12-17 visit.

The Vatican announced the pope-patriarch meeting Feb. 5 and, on Feb. 8, released an updated itinerary for Pope Francis’ trip. The pope will leave Rome almost
five hours earlier than originally scheduled so that the meeting in Havana with
Patriarch Kirill will not impact his schedule in Mexico.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told
reporters that in addition to official events on the schedule in Mexico, the
papal motorcades are expected to be long and lively. For example, he said, the
route from the airport to the nunciature in Mexico City, where the pope will
sleep, is about 12 miles, and people are expected to line most of the route when
he arrives from Cuba.

Five popemobiles will be on hand because papal flights to
San Cristobal de Las Casas, Morelia and Ciudad Juarez would make it difficult
to move the vehicles efficiently each day. Two of the popemobiles are being
shipped down from the United States where they were used in September, the
spokesman said.

No evening event is planned for Feb. 13 after Pope Francis’
Mass in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the spokesman said. Instead, the
pope will have all the time he wants and needs to pray before the image of Mary
preserved there, something the pope said he wanted to do. “He did not want
to feel under pressure because of his program,” Father Lombardi said.

The trip was designed for the pope and his entourage to
return each night to Mexico City and avoid having to sleep in a different city
each night, “something which is rather tiring and complicated,” the
spokesman said.

Another key in the design, he said, was to fulfill Pope
Francis’ desire to visit cities and dioceses that did not have a chance to host
either St. John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI.

The pope’s outdoor morning Mass Feb. 14 has been delayed by
one hour. The Mass will be celebrated in Ecatepec, a diocese just outside
Mexico City; the indigenous name “Ecatepec” means “windy
hill” and overnight temperatures are frigid. Father Lombardi said the Mass
was delayed until 11:30 a.m. to allow people to arrive in the morning without
attempting to spend the night at the site.

A meeting with “representatives of culture” in
Mexico City originally scheduled for the evening of Feb. 14 has been canceled,
Father Lombardi said, mainly because of the hour delay of the entire day’s
program because of the Mass.

Pope Francis has made it a tradition to invite a lay Vatican
employee to join his entourage on trips abroad. This time, Father Lombardi
said, it will be one of the Vatican firefighters. “Let’s hope he won’t
have to work,” the spokesman joked.

Here is the updated schedule as released by the Vatican.
Times listed are local, with Eastern Standard Time in parenthesis when it is
different from local time:

Friday, Feb. 12 (Rome, Havana, Mexico City)

— 7:45 a.m. (1:45 a.m.) Departure from Rome’s Fiumicino

— 2 p.m. Arrival at Jose Marti International Airport in

— 2:15 p.m. Private meeting with Patriarch Kirill.

— 4:30 p.m. Signing of a joint declaration. Speeches by
patriarch and by pope.

— 5:30 p.m. Departure from Havana airport for Mexico City.

— 7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.) Arrival at Benito
Juarez International Airport in Mexico City. Officials to greet pope.

Saturday, Feb. 13 (Mexico City)

— 9:30 a.m. (10:30 a.m.) Welcoming ceremony at the National
Palace. Courtesy visit with the president of the republic.

— 10:15 a.m. (11:15 a.m.) Meeting with representatives of
civil society and the diplomatic corps. Speech by pope.

— 11:30 a.m. (12:30 p.m.) Meeting with Mexico’s bishops in
the city’s cathedral. Speech by pope.

— 5 p.m. (6 p.m.) Mass in the Basilica of Our Lady of
Guadalupe. Homily by pope.

Sunday, Feb. 14 (Mexico City, Ecatepec, Mexico City)

— 10:15 a.m. (11:15 a.m.) Transfer by helicopter to

— 11:30 a.m. (12:30 p.m.) Mass in the area of the
“study center” of Ecatepec. Homily by pope. Pope recites Angelus.

— 2 p.m. Lunch with the papal entourage in the Ecatepec
diocesan seminary.

— 4:45 p.m. (5:45 p.m.) Transfer by helicopter to Mexico

— 5:15 p.m. (6:15 p.m.) Arrival in Mexico City.

— 5:45 p.m. (6:45 p.m.) Visit to the Federico Gomez
Children’s Hospital of Mexico. Greeting by pope.

Monday, Feb. 15 (Mexico City, Tuxtla Gutierrez, San
Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico City)

— 7:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m.) Departure by plane for Tuxtla

— 9:15 a.m. (10:15 a.m.) Transfer by helicopter to San
Cristobal de Las Casas.

— 10:15 a.m. (11:15 a.m.) Mass at the city’s sports center
with the indigenous community from Chiapas. Homily by pope.

— 1 p.m. (2 p.m.) Lunch with representatives of the
indigenous community and the papal entourage.

— 3 p.m. (4 p.m.) Visit to the cathedral of San Cristobal
de Las Casas.

— 3:35 p.m. (4:35 p.m.) Transfer by helicopter to Tuxtla

— 4:15 p.m. (5:15 p.m.) Meeting with families at the Victor
Manuel Reyna Stadium at Tuxtla Gutierrez. Speech by pope.

— 6:10 p.m. (7:10 p.m.) Departure by plane for Mexico City.

— 8 p.m. (9 p.m.) Arrival at the Mexico City airport.

Tuesday, Feb. 16 (Mexico City, Morelia, Mexico City)

— 7:50 a.m. (8:50 a.m.) Departure by airplane for Morelia.

— 10 a.m. (11 a.m.) Mass with priests, seminarians,
religious men and women, and consecrated persons. Homily by pope.

— 3:20 p.m. (4:20 p.m.) Visit to the city’s cathedral.

— 4:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m.) Meeting with young people at the
Jose Maria Morelos Pavon Stadium. Speech by pope.

— 6:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m.) Departure by plane for Mexico City.

— 7:35 p.m. (8:35 p.m.) Arrival in Mexico City.

Wednesday, Feb. 17 (Mexico City, Ciudad Juarez)

— 8:35 a.m. (9:35 a.m.) Departure by plane for Ciudad

— 10 a.m. (12 p.m.) Arrival at Abraham Gonzalez
International Airport in Ciudad Juarez.

— 10:30 a.m. (12:30 p.m.) Visit to Cereso prison. Speech by

— 12 p.m. (2 p.m.) Meeting with workers and employers at
the Colegio de Bachilleres of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Speech by pope.

— 4 p.m. (6 p.m.) Mass at the fairgrounds of Ciudad Juarez.
Homily and greeting by pope.

— 7 p.m. (9 p.m.) Departure ceremony at the Ciudad Juarez
International Airport.

— 7:15 p.m. (9:15 p.m.) Departure by plane for Rome.

Thursday, Feb. 18 (Rome)

— 2:45 p.m. (8:45 a.m.) Arrival at Rome’s Ciampino Airport.

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