By H. Sergio Mora

ROME, FEB. 2, 2012 ( Benedict XVI's upcoming apostolic visit to Latin America will satisfy a sense of neglect that is felt there, says Mexico's ambassador to the Holy See

Federico Ling Altamirano says his country, in particular, is suffering the consequences of a head-on attack against organized crime. Therefore receiving the Pope will be like welcoming a Father who is coming to help. 

Even though the Holy Father will not directly address the problems or offer political solutions, he will accompany the Mexicans in their pain, the ambassador told ZENIT.

ZENIT: What [do you see] as some motivations for the Pope's decision to visit Mexico?

Ling: I believe that, as His Holiness said on Dec. 12 [on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe], Latin America is in a full battle to not lose but rather to enhance its Christianity and Catholicism that is more than 500 years old there. This in itself deserves the consideration of a trip.

ZENIT: Cuba and Mexico -- perhaps there are also historical reasons with Mexico, as, still today, Cuba continues to have its difficulties?

Ling: It is as valid to use this criterion as to consider that Mexico is the second ranking country in the world in terms of the number of Catholics, and it just so happens that the return from Mexico to Rome passes above Havana.

ZENIT: Did you expect this news?

Ling: Three years ago there was little hope. I had run out of solutions other than to pray. And I didn't do anything other than pray.  

ZENIT: But, was he invited by Mexico?

Ling: Yes. Mexico's president, Felipe Calderón, invited him two times personally. And perhaps he was influential in the Holy Father's decision. The president made a most desperate appeal, which went more or less this way: "We need you to come to our country at this time, in which there is a fight against organized crime, which has caused great grief and innocent victims."

ZENIT: Well, they are not always that innocent.

Ling: Of course not, but criminals also have wives, children, relatives. There have been too many tears, too many difficulties in Mexico. As well an almost psychological state exists in which the Mexican people and many others in Latin America feel neglected.

ZENIT: How can the Pontiff's visit help the Latin American countries?

Ling: The Pope can help very much by simply being present. He doesn't need to say much. However, if he wishes to do so, all the better. It would be enough for him to say: Here is a father to help you. If I don't succeed in helping you, at least I will not leave you and will accompany you in your pain. I bless you and may the Virgin of Guadalupe assist in overcoming these problems.

ZENIT: On several occasions, including Aparecida in Brazil, the Pope has pointed out several issues.

Ling: Yes. What he said during the Mass of Guadalupe, for example, was very concrete. If he is able to repeat this in the various places in Cuba and Mexico, it will be greatly appreciated. Here, in St. Peter's, within the rites and ceremonies, all words sound academic. However, over there they will resonate with the natives! They will be directed to the people of these homelands!

ZENIT: What can this trip contribute to Benedict XVI's pontificate?

Ling: Although he is often described as a conservative Pope, and because he is German, it is said therefore he is not very Papist or Marian -- the trip will aid in demolishing these myths and so will be a dream come true.

[Translation by ZENIT]