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Pope Benedict arrives in Mexico, addresses drug violence

Yuri Cortez / AFP - Getty Images

The motorcade escorting the popemobile of Pope Benedict XVI drives along Lopez Mateos Boulevard in the City of Leon, Mexico on March 23.

Reuters reports: Pope Benedict arrived in Mexico on Friday promising to "unmask the evil" of drug trafficking in a country that has been ravaged by a surge in gang violence over the past five years.

Alberto Pizzoli / AFP - Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI (C) is welcomed by Mexican President Felipe Calderon (R) and his wife Margarita Zavala, upon his arrival at Silao's international airport in Guanajuato, Mexico, on March 23. The Pope arrived in Mexico for his first trip to Spanish-speaking Latin America which will also include a two-day visit to Cuba.

The pope began his three-day visit in the central city of Leon with a festive welcome from President Felipe Calderon after making strong statements aboard his papal plane about Mexico's spiraling drug war.

"We must do whatever is possible to combat this destructive evil against humanity and our youth," he told reporters, referring to the violent conflict between rival drug cartels and the state that has killed 50,000 people since 2007.

Dario Lopez-Mills / AP

People wait for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI at the airport in Silao, Mexico.

"It is the responsibility of the Church to educate consciences, to teach moral responsibility and to unmask the evil, to unmask this idolatry of money which enslaves man, to unmask the false promises, the lies, the fraud that is behind drugs," the pope added.

Alexandre Meneghini / AP

A boy peers through toy binoculars in a crowd of faithful waiting for Pope Benedict XVI's arrival via pope mobile, in Leon, Mexico, Friday March 23. Benedict landed in Silao, Mexico, Friday afternoon, for the start of a weeklong trip to Mexico and Cuba; his first visit to both countries.