VATICAN CITY, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- The Vatican has apologized after Mexico's government expressed offense to the term "Mexicanization" used by Pope Francis referring to drug trafficking in Argentina.
Mexico's foreign ministry sent a note of protest to the Pope about his use of the term and also contacted a Vatican diplomat.
"We would like to express our sadness and concern about the statements made regarding a private letter from Pope Francis," Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Meade said.
The Vatican formally apologized on Tuesday.
"The Holy See considers that the term 'Mexicanization' in no way intended to stigmatize the people of Mexico, even less to be considered as a political opinion at the expense of a nation that has been making a serious effort to eradicate violence and its social root causes," the Vatican said.
The Vatican's Secretary of State also said the expression was part of a "private and informal email" to someone who previously used the phrase.
Francis, a native of Argentina, sent a letter to Argentine legislator Gustavo Vera expressing his concern with Mexico's current events.
The letter was in response to an initial message Vera sent the pope stating concerns about the "non-stop" growth of drug trafficking in Argentina.
"I was talking with a few Mexican bishops and things are just terrifying [in Mexico]," said the letter from the pope, posted online by nonprofit organization La Alameda, which Vera oversees. "I see your endless efforts at no cost. I fervently ask God to protect you and the Alameda members. Hopefully, we still have time to avoid the mexicanization."