Catholic News ServiceDemonstrators mark the first anniversary of the disappearance of 43 students from a teachers college in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero.
Catholic News Service
Demonstrators mark the first anniversary of the disappearance of 43 students from a teachers college in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero.

MEXICO CITY — The Mexican bishops’ conference and the Vatican have confirmed Pope Francis will visit Mexico in 2016, marking his first trip to this heavily Catholic country in throes of unrest over unresolved issues such as violence, crime and corruption.

Auxiliary Bishop Eugenio Lira Rugarcia of Puebla, conference secretary-general, said the pope would travel to Mexico next year, though dates and details were still to be determined. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the trip would likely take place during the first half of 2016 and include a stop in the capital, Mexico City.

Pope Francis has mused about visiting Mexico, home to the world’s second-largest Catholic population. After visiting the Philippines last year, the pope said he wanted to walk from Mexico into the United States “as a sign of brotherhood and of help to the immigrants,” along with visiting the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the world’s most-visited Marian shrine.

He said in September that he had planned to enter the United States at a border crossing, going from Ciudad Juarez to El Paso, Texas, but opted to instead visit Cuba after the communist country and the United States ended their estrangement, with Vatican assistance.

Migration — in the form of Central Americans traveling through Mexico and and falling victim to criminals and corrupt public officials — is one of many potential issues on the agenda for Pope Francis in Mexico.