Pope's visit to Mexico controversial, even before arrival


A gust of wind blows away Pope Francis' skullcap during his weekly general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, February 10, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi


After a quick stop in Cuba to meet with the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Pope Francis will spend nearly a week in Mexico -- a carefully choreographed trip to touch on the major issues facing Mexico.

With a wave and a smile, Pope Francis took off on his second trip to Latin America as head of the Catholic Church, kicking off his six-day trip to Mexico, the world's second largest Catholic country.

Francis -- the child of immigrants himself -- will address the issue of immigration with a mass at the U.S.-Mexico border, but even before his arrival on Friday, presidential candidate Donald Trump played politics with the pope's approach, reports CBS News correspondent Manual Bojorquez.

"The pope is a very political person. I think he doesn't understand the problems our country has, I don't think he understands the danger of the open border that we have with Mexico and I think Mexico got him to do it because Mexico wants to keep the border just the way it is, because they're making a fortune and we're losing," Trump said.

Michael O'Loughlin, national reporter for the Catholic publication Crux, refuted Trump's allegations.

"Does Pope Francis understand how border security works? Of course he does," O'Loughlin said. "He just wants the United States to consider a more humane approach to immigration."

This won't be the first time the pontiff takes on a controversial topic.

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While visiting the U.S. last fall, he spoke about immigration and climate change during an address to Congress.

A day later, he called the drug war "poorly fought" at the United Nations.

The pope will revisit the topic on this trip by visiting the heart of Mexico's drug problems; the state of Michoacan.

The Catholic Church hopes his time in the country will reinvigorate Catholicism.

"The percentage of Mexican Catholics, while still around 80 percent, has been dropping in recent years," O'Loughlin said. "It's a chance for the pope to celebrate on one hand, but on the other hand, try to save a church that is a little bit in decline."

Pope Francis' two predecessors both visited Mexico, but not all the places he has chosen to visit. And as the first Latin-American, his trip has added significance.