Mexico government says Pope Francis to visit capital, 3 states in early 2016

Mexico's foreign relations secretary says Pope Francis will visit the Mexican capital and three states early next year.

Claudia Ruiz Massieu says that Francis will make stops in Chiapas, Michoacan and Chihuahua as well as Mexico City.

Those stops present opportunities for the pontiff to touch on issues he has emphasized, such as poverty, migration and support for indigenous communities.

Ruiz Massieu said Wednesday that the trip will take place in the first months of 2016 and that specifics of Francis' itinerary would be released by the Vatican next month.

Mexican Cardinal Norberto Rivera said recently that the pope would arrive Feb. 12, but that date has not been confirmed by the Vatican.

Benedict XVI was the last pope to visit Mexico, in 2012.