According to Chicago’s Catholic Extension society, Pope Francis plans to celebrate an afternoon Mass near the U.S.-Mexico border during his visit to Ciudad Juárez in Mexico on Feb. 17. The 4 p.m. Mass will be celebrated at the Benito Juárez Stadium “right next to the border.” The Mass will be the culmination of the pope’s visit to Mexico. Also today the Diocese of El Paso, Texas announced that the Mass will include a cross-border component, adding that those details are still being worked out. According to a statement at its website: “The Diocese of El Paso is working with local, state and federal agencies to celebrate the Papal Mass at the U.S/Mexico border, specifically along Loop 375/César Chávez Highway within eyesight of the Papal Mass. Because of the anticipated crowds for this Mass, remote locations are also under consideration.” Parishes in the two U.S. dioceses across the Rio Grande river from Juárez—El Paso and Las Cruces, New Mexico—will also receive tickets for their parishioners to attend the Mass in Juárez. Pope Francis’ plan to celebrate Mass at the border is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from both the U.S. and Mexico. The Catholic Extension release suggests it “will be a significant milestone of the trip’s itinerary.”
From the press release:
“We hope that in a special way, Pope Francis’ visit to this region will give voice to these often voiceless people here on the border, especially children and families who are the most vulnerable. And we hope that his presence will facilitate a much-needed national dialogue that will help unite our own country around a compassionate response to the poor in our midst,” said The Most Reverend Mark Seitz, Bishop of El Paso. “We are also very grateful to Catholic Extension for being an integral partner in this milestone event and whose longstanding support of all mission dioceses helps us bring hope and faith to the marginalized.”
From the Diocese of El Paso:
Pope Francis will arrive at the Juarez airport on Feb. 17 at approximately 10:30 a.m MST. From there, he will travel via motorcade to Cereso prison where he will meet and pray with several inmates. The Pope’s next expected stop will be Colegio Bachilleres where he will be met by approximately 3,600 business leaders and workers. Pope Francis will then travel to the Seminary for a private lunch and rest before celebrating Mass at 4 p.m. at El Punto, a large field near Benito Juarez Stadium. El Punto holds about 220,000 people and tickets will be provided to parishes on both sides of the border for those who want to attend Mass in Juarez.
Bishop Mark J. Seitz writes:
I am presently in conversation with our local civic leaders about celebrating Mass with Pope Francis at the border fence along Loop 375/César Chávez Highway which will include the faithful on both sides of the border. The details of this liturgy are still being developed, and we hope to be able to communicate more information very soon.
Photo: Catholic Extension