MEXICO CITY (AP) – Mexico will send a protest note to the Vatican over purported comments by Pope Francis worrying about a possible "Mexicanization" of his native Argentina due to rising drug trafficking activity there, authorities announced Monday.
Mexican Foreign Secretary José Antonio Meade said he had met with the Vatican's diplomatic emissary to the country, Christophe Pierre, to inform him about the note.
"We express sadness and concern with respect to the communications that apparently were made, referring to a private letter from Pope Francis," Meade said.
The pontiff apparently touched on drug activity in Argentina in a weekend letter to Argentine lawmaker Gustavo Vera.
"Hopefully we are in time to avoid Mexicanization," the letter said. "I was talking to some Mexican bishops, and it is terrifying."
Vera told Argentina's Todo Noticias on Monday that Bergoglio "loves the Mexican people very much," but was concerned that Argentina not end up following a path of "undeclared civil war between cartels."
Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi declined to confirm or deny the letter's authenticity, in line with longstanding policy of not commenting on what the Holy See considers personal or pastoral communications by the pope.
Various parts of Mexico have been plagued by drug violence for years, and Mexican cartels have extended their operations to other countries in the hemisphere and around the world.
Meade said Mexico has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to fighting the cartels, and there are more productive things to do than "seeking to stigmatize Mexico."