Pope Benedict XVI, who turns 85 next month, arrived yesterday in Mexico -- home to 96 million Roman Catholics -- on the first leg of a six-day trip that will bring him to Cuba on Monday. From the moment he stepped out of the papal plane at Guanajuato airport and was warmly welcomed by president Felipe Calderón, the Pope was greeted by "songs, joyful throngs, church bells and confetti," the AP reports. The big topic on everyone's mind is the drug war, which has claimed the lives of over 47,000 people since the government escalated its campaign to eradicate cartels five years ago. Pope Benedict told reporters that the church "has a great responsibility" to guide its followers away from the greed that drives that drug trade, The New York Times reports, adding that it's up to Catholic leaders “to educate the conscience, teach moral responsibility and strip off the mask, the idolatry of money that enslaves mankind ... We must do everything possible to fight this evil which destroys our young." About his upcoming visit to Cuba, the Pope said, "Marxist ideology as it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality ... [W]e want to help, in a spirit of dialogue, to avoid traumas and to help move toward a society that is fraternal and just, which is what we desire for the whole world."
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