LEON –– Pope Benedict XVI will address the pressing issues of poverty and insecurity during his visit to Mexico, along with orienting Catholics toward a missionary mentality, the president of the Mexican bishops’ conference said on the eve of the pontiff’s arrival.

“Without doubt, he will express preoccupation with the situations the country is experiencing,” Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla told Catholic News Service March 22.

popePope Benedict XVI waves as he boards his plane to leave for a six-day pastoral visit to Mexico and Cuba at Fiumicino airport in Rome March 23. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)“Now (the message) will go more along social and cultural lines, of violence and insecurity, emigration, the treatment of persons,” he added.

The pope is likely to express his preoccupations and hopes for the country in “a more deep or theological explanation, as he often does, from a biblical foundation, for example, in the homily … from the word of God and from there illuminate realities (and) direct the criterion for Catholics and men of good will,” Archbishop Aguiar said.

Pope Benedict arrives March 23 in Silao, in Guanajuato state, 220 miles northwest of Mexico City. He will be greeted at the airport by President Felipe Calderon.

He arrives at a difficult time as Mexico experiences organized crime and drug violence, which has claimed more than 47,000 lives since Calderon took office in December 2006. The situation was highlighted by a cartel, the quasi-religious Knights Templar, hanging banners around Guanajuato state promising a truce during the pope’s visit.

Excitement for the visit appeared evident among residents of Guanajuato, considered Mexico’s most conservative and Catholic state. Signs greeting the pontiff dotted roadways and businesses –– and even a junkyard.

Similar excitement appeared lacking in other parts of Mexico, however, something Catholic leaders attributed to Mexicans’ special affection for Blessed John Paul II, who visited Mexico five times and is still considered more popular than Pope Benedict.

Archbishop Aguiar said Mexicans always have showed great affection for all pontiffs and said the visit by Pope Benedict would provide the opportunity for “giving continuity of love for the pope, independent of the person.”