He will be speaking in Spanish, meeting with immigrant youth, and listening to a performance by Colombian pop-star Juanes.
This will not be an average papal visit to the United States. Not only is Pope Francis the first Latin American pontiff, he will be conducting most of his visit in Spanish. (Only four of his 18 speeches in the United States will be given in English, the Vatican says.)
“It’s very important for me to meet all of you, the citizens of the United States, who have your history, your culture, your virtues, your joys, your sorrows, and your problems, just like everyone else,” he said in Spanish via satellite to Latinos in McAllen, Texas, earlier this month.
Though he feels more comfortable speaking Spanish, his choice of language is also a recognition of the large Latino population of the United States, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, told USA Today.
It is a critical time for the Catholic church to reach out to Latinos, says Julia Young, a professor at Catholic University of America in Washington. Young is a historian who has written extensively about the relationship between the Catholic church and Latin American immigrants to the United States.
Here are four reasons why the Pope, and the Catholic church, care about U.S. Latinos: