LIFESTYLE

Pope Francis says he will visit Mexican border town Ciudad Juárez next year

Pope Francis talks to journalists during a press conference he held aboard the flight on the way back to the Vatican, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. Pope Francis traveled to Africa for a six-day visit that took him to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic. (Daniel Dal Zennaro/Pool Photo via AP)

Pope Francis talks to journalists during a press conference he held aboard the flight on the way back to the Vatican, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. Pope Francis traveled to Africa for a six-day visit that took him to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic. (Daniel Dal Zennaro/Pool Photo via AP)

Pope Francis says he hopes to add the key Mexico-U.S. border city of Juárez to his Mexico itinerary next year, confirming the trip will have a strong immigration theme.

Speaking to reporters en route home from Africa on Monday, Francis said he would begin his trip in the capital, Mexico City, to pray before the Virgin of Guadalupe "the mother of the Americas."

He said he planned to visit Chiapas on Mexico's southern border with Guatemala, where many Central African migrants pass through en route to the United States. He said he was "almost sure" that he would end his visit in Ciudad Juárez, on Mexico's northern border with the U.S. In between, he said he would stop in Morelia.

Church officials have said the trip will begin Feb. 12.

Francis also said he planned to return to Brazil in 2017 to mark a special feast of the Virgin of Aparecida, and that other countries on that trip are likely. He has yet to return to his native Argentina, and a planned Argentina-Uruguay-Chile trip rumored for 2016 has apparently been scrapped.

In other travel, Francis said he has promised the patriarchs of Armenia that he would visit, but no date has been discussed.

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