VATICAN CITY, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Pope Benedict XVI plans to visit Cuba and Mexico early next year.
The pope announced the trip Monday during a mass at St. Peter's celebrating the Virgin of Guadalupe, believed to be the protector of North and South America, El Nuevo Herald reported. Benedict said only that the trip will be before Easter week, which begins April 1 this year, but earlier stories have suggested he will be in the two countries between March 23 and March 28.
During the mass, the pope prayed that God will help people in Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas in "building a society based on the development of good, the triumph of love and the spread of justice."
The visit will be Benedict's first to Cuba and Mexico. His predecessor, John Paul II, was in both countries, visiting Cuba in 1998.
Cardinal Jaime Ortega of Cuba, Cardinal Norberto Rivera of Mexico City and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, all attended the mass. Bertone has made two trips to Cuba.