VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis said his reasons for going to Mexico are “easy and simple.”

“I want to come as a missionary of mercy and peace,” the pope said in a video message to the Mexican people released by the Vatican Feb. 7. “I want to meet with you to profess our faith together and share a fundamental truth in our lives: that God loves us very much, that he loves us with an infinite love, beyond our merits.”


The pope said he was “very happy” for his apostolic visit Feb. 12-17 and that he carries the people of Mexico in his prayers and in his heart.

“I want to be as close as possible to you, but in a special way to those who suffer, to hug them and tell them that Jesus loves them very much, that he is always at their side,” he said.

One of his “greatest desires” during the six-day visit, he said, is to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which houses the image of Mary that was miraculously imprinted on the cloak of St. Juan Diego. The pope said that to feel the “tenderness of her gracious presence” would be a “beautiful” experience.

“There I will look in her eyes and plead that she never stops looking upon us with mercy because she is our mother in heaven,” he said.