The Vatican Secretariat of State issued a clarification to Mexico's ambassador regarding a comment made by Pope Francis, in which he expressed his hope that drug trafficking would cease in Argentina by using the phrase "avoid Mexicanization."

An email sent on February 21stby Pope Francis to Argentinian legislator Gustavo Vera, head of the NGO "La Alameda", called on the government to avoid a "Mexicanization" of Argentina, in reference to the violence caused by drug trafficking in the country.

"I ask God to protect you and the people of La Alameda. Hopefully, we are in time to avoid the 'Mexicanization.' I spoke to several Mexican bishops and it is frightening." The Pope added: "Tomorrow, I will be leaving for a week to the Spiritual Exercises with the Roman Curia. A week of prayer and meditation will do me well."

The comment drew a formal protest from Mexico's foreign ministry, expressing its "sadness and concern" at the Holy Father's words which "stigmatized" the country. "Mexico is making enormous efforts to combat drug trafficking," the note stated according Agence France-Presse.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, released a statement saying that in no way did the Holy Father intend to offend the Mexican population "for whom he holds a special affection, nor to underestimate the commitment of the Mexican government in its fight against narco-trafficking."

"As is known, the expression 'avoid Mexicanization' was used by the Pope in an email of a strictly private and informal nature, in response to an Argentine friend who is deeply involved in the battle against drug abuse, who had used the phrase," Fr. Lombardi stated.

"The Note demonstrates that evidently the Pope intended only to emphasize the seriousness of the phenomenon of the drug trafficking that afflicts Mexico and other countries in Latin America. It is precisely this importance that has made the fight against drug trafficking a priority for the government, in order to combat violence and restore peace and serenity to Mexican families, acting on the root causes of this scourge."

Concluding his statement, Fr. Lombardi said that Pope Francis has highlighted the need to adopt policies that protect families from the sufferings of drug trafficking on various occasions.

US Bishops Letter on US-Mexican Drug Trafficking Policy

Here is the letter written by Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski Archbishop of Miami and Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace regarding US-Mexico Drug Trafficking Policy.