Updated 08:34 AM EST, Fri, Mar 05, 2021

Pope Francis Heading to Colombia in 2017

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Pope Francis will visit Colombia in 2017.

The news was announced by the South American nation's Catholic Episcopal Conference on Saturday after a meeting with the pontiff at the Vatican, according to the Associated Press (via Yahoo! News).

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on his official Twitter page that his country "will receive him with enthusiasm and peace."

The dates of the trip do not have an official schedule yet, the AP further reported. Pope Francis has also expressed his desire to visit Brazil's 300th anniversary of the Virgin of Aparecida.

The pontiff is already preparing to visit Mexico next month, which is expected to draw a crowd of 2.3 million at the main event on the outskirts of the country's capital, according to a separate report from the AP (via Fox News). Government officials will deploy 10,000 state police officers to maintain the peace and ordinance at a 5.5.-mile (8.8 kilometer) motorcade and rally scheduled on Feb. 14.

Pope Francis' Mexico trip will be from Feb. 12 to 18, the news outlet noted. He will also visit the states of Chiapas, Michoacan, and Chihuahua.

"The pope has called for no extraordinary measures," Alberto Suárez Inda, the archbishop of Morelia, said at a news conference earlier this month, as quoted by the Guardian. "On the contrary," he added, the pontiff intends "to be near the people."

"He would not come if he did not have his confidence in God, in the goodness of the people," the archbishop continued, as reported by the news outlet. "We're all mortals, but as far as I know there has been no change in politics to necessitate more protection."

Pope Francis will visit Morelia on Feb. 16 and will meet with young people and visit the city's cathedral, the Guardian further reported. He will give a speech at a stadium there afterwards. A day later, the pope will head to Ciudad Juárez, the border city that has experienced years of disappearances and violent murders. He is also expected to discuss migration while in the city.

"He is thinking of Mexico as a kind of cradle of (the Americas), looking north and south and (at) Mexican immigration and Mexican emigration in both directions," said Peter Casarella, a theology professor and director of the Latin American/North American Church Concerns Project at the University of Notre Dame, as quoted by AZ Central.

Pope Francis has often reiterated his defense of the human rights of migrants since he became pontiff in March 2013, AZ Central noted. He is expected to speak about drug cartel violence in his Mexico visit as well.

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