The Latest: Texas stadium fills for pope's last Mexico Mass

The latest on Pope Francis' visit to Mexico (all times local):

3:40 p.m.

People have begun filling up a football stadium in the West Texas city of El Paso, where about 30,000 Catholic faithful are expected to watch a livestream of Pope Francis celebrating Mass just across the border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

El Paso resident Andrea Herrera says she and her parents got to the University of Texas at El Paso's Sun Bowl stadium at 7:30 a.m. to tailgate, eat the traditional Mexican soup called "menudo," decorate candles and pray.

Herrera calls the event "our own pope-a-palooza."

More than 200,000 people are expected to attend the Mass in Juarez, which is the last stop on Francis' five-day visit to Mexico.


1:20 p.m.

Pope Francis is warning that God will judge those who exploit workers and make them "slaves of our day," for their own profit.

During a visit to Ciudad Juarez, Francis urged employers to think of the type of Mexico they want to leave for their children.

"Do you want to leave them the memory of exploitation, of insufficient pay, of workplace harassment?" he asked. And he added, "What air will they breath? An air tainted by corruption, violence, insecurity and suspicion, or on the contrary an air capable of generating alternatives, renewal and change?"

Francis' meeting came on his final day in Mexico. He concludes it with a visit to the Texas border for a prayer for victims of human trafficking.


1:05 p.m.

Religious leaders and migrants rights advocates in the United States say Pope Francis' acknowledgment during his visit to the U.S.-Mexico border of the struggles of immigrants will send a humanitarian message.

Just before his Mass Wednesday afternoon in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Francis is to walk to the border fence along the Rio Grande, which separates the two countries. There, he'll offer a prayer for migrants on the other side and for those who died trying to get to the U.S. A group of about 500 people, including migrants and refugees, will be on the U.S. side.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville said at a news conference in El Paso Wednesday that "because something has political dimensions it doesn't mean that it does not also have moral dimensions


12:25 a.m.

Pope Francis is urging Mexican prisoners to look to the future and believe that their lives can change rather than dwell on the "sorrow and sin" that got them incarcerated.

On his final day in Mexico Wednesday, Francis brought the message of his Holy Year of Mercy to the No. 3 prison in Ciudad Juarez, once considered the murder capital of the world.

Francis told the 700 or so inmates gathered in the prison chapel that they cannot undo the past. But he said they must believe that things can change, and that they have the possibility of "writing a new story and moving forward."

He said: "You have known the power of sorrow and sin and have not forgotten that within your reach is the power of the resurrection, the power of divine mercy which makes all things new."

He urged the inmates to use their experience in prison for good, to help end the cycle of violence that has torn Mexico apart in recent years.

"The one who has suffered the greatest pain, and we could say has experienced hell, can become a prophet in society," he said. "Work so that this society, which uses people and discards them, will not go on claiming victims."


11:05 a.m.

People have begun pouring across the border from the West Texas city of El Paso to Juarez, where Pope Francis is holding the final Mass of his visit to Mexico.

A steady stream of pedestrians has been flowing across the Bridge of the Americas from El Paso into Juarez ahead of the pope's afternoon Mass.

Volunteers from the Catholic diocese were handing out free water bottles to those crossing the bridge.

Luis Trillo is among those crossing, making the walk despite pain from arthritis in his legs. He says he's excited to hear Francis' blessing at the Mass.


10:55 a.m.

Pope Francis has touched down in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, greeted by hundreds of people in bleachers set up at the city's airport.

It's the final stop on a whirlwind five-day visit to the country, and it's expected to be one of the most dramatic as the pope tackles issues of violence and immigration from an altar set up right along the U.S. border.

The faithful have been streaming along the city's closed-off streets to reach the site of the Mass, walking in pairs or in extended families, some bundled against the early morning cold.


10:25 a.m.

The temporary altar where Pope Francis is to celebrate an open-air Mass is snug against the U.S.-Mexico border — with just a highway between its edge on the Rio Grande.

The skyline of El Paso, Texas, is clearly visible and on Tuesday a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter was so close it seemed to nearly fly over the altar while making a low, lazy path above the Rio Grande.

Venders are hawking papal memorabilia — from yellow and white flags to baseball caps and t-shirts with the pontiff's likeness.


9:15 a.m.

The airline that carried Pope Francis to Mexico says the plane carrying the pontiff was hit by a laser light from the ground as it arrived on Friday.

Alitalia says no one was hurt and the aircraft landed safely. It said Wednesday that the crew notified the Mexico City airport's control tower of the incident.

Officials around the world have been increasingly concerned about people training laser pointers on jetliners. In some cases, crewmembers have suffered eye damage.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration reported nearly 4,000 laser strikes in 2013.


9:00 a.m.

Pope Francis has ended his vist to Mexico's capital with a final mariachi serenade. But he's still got major events on today's schedule for northern Mexico.

The Mexican Navy's mariachi band saw him away with a specially composed number: "Pope Francis, this isn't farewell, it's only see you later. May God bless you."

And then he boarded a jet for the border city of Ciudad Juarez.


7:20 a.m.

Pope Francis is wrapping up his trip to Mexico on Wednesday with some of his most anticipated events. Those include a visit to a Ciudad Juarez prison just days after a riot in another lockup killed 49 inmates. He'll also stop at the Texas border at a moment when immigration is a hot issue for the U.S. presidential campaign.

The pope has left his lodgings at the papal nuncio's residence in Mexico City for the last time on this visit after a farewell serenade by mariachis. He's beaming and waving to thick crowds along the streets as he heads to the airport in his popemobile to catch a flight to the northern border metropolis of Juarez. After the stop there, he'll fly home to Rome.

Francis' final events cap a whirlwind five-day visit that focused heavily on the injustices faced by Mexico's poorest, most oppressed and vulnerable to the country's drug-fueled violence.