Pope Francis is holding a Mass for Mexican priests, nuns and seminarians Tuesday in the state of Michoacan, the heart of Mexico’s drug-trafficking country.
Francis arrived in the capital, Morelia, for the service in which he is expected to offer words of encouragement to Mexican clergy as they try to minister to a country wracked by drug violence and corruption.
Later, he will tour the city’s cathedral and hold a second Mass with Mexican youths in a stadium.
Michoacan endured some of the most gruesome episodes of Mexico’s drug war, which has left 100,000 people dead or missing in the past decade.
Organized crime groups in the area have battled for control of methamphetamine production, which is prevalent there.
Pope Francis greets a child as he walks in procession at the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe before celebrating Mass in Mexico City, Feb. 13, 2016.
Pope Francis began his five-day visit to Mexico on Saturday, meeting with officials in a call for them to provide «true justice» and security in the country after years of endemic drug violence, official corruption and poverty.
On Sunday, he spoke before members of Mexico’s indigenous population and asked for forgiveness for the exclusion they have suffered by society.
Francis caps his visit Wednesday in the U.S.-Mexico border town of Ciudad Juarez, where he is expected to address issues of crime, trafficking and migration.