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Pope Benedict XVI's speech in Mexico focuses on children

March 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon in Guanajuato city and later told about 4,000 children massed in the colonial-era city's Peace Plaza that they are each a "gift of God to Mexico and the world."

"I came so you would feel my affection," the Pope said. His message was a simple one, seemingly tailored for the young audience before him.

"The disciple of Jesus does not respond to evil with evil, but is always an instrument of good instead, a herald of pardon, a bearer of happiness, a servant of unity," Benedict said. "I will pray for all of you, so that Mexico may be a place in which everyone can live in serenity and harmony."

Earlier in the day at the entrance to Guanajuato, Benedict received the keys to the city and then traveled by popemobile past faithful crowded along the streets of the colonial city.

People packed the narrow streets, balconies and rooftops and cheered wildly even as it started to sprinkle. Children and teenagers ran through crowds as Benedict passed to catch another glimpse of him.

"This is incredible to know that we could travel because it's relatively close to the United States and be here amongst people of great faith and be able to witness how Pope Benedict comes and visits," said Michelle Godinez of Burbank, who was there on a trip with friends to see the Pontiff.

Not far away at Bicentennial Park, people began arriving in the early morning prepared to spend the night in anticipation of Sunday Mass with the Pope. Getting in hasn't been easy. National security surround the park, there were dozens of vehicle checkpoints and armed patrols standing guard in the hills above.

Security was so tight, police were checking all bags people attempted to bring into the park. Some people waited four hours to get inside.

"It's been a long wait but, it's worth it," said Ramon Trujillo. "I just brought a cover and myself and that's it . And a bottle of water. No food. We'll see what happens."

The weeklong trip to Mexico and Cuba is Benedict's first to both countries, and only his second to Latin America. He visited Brazil in 2007.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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