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Saturday, July 31, 2021
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Yucatán governor extends an invitation to the pope

Hoping for a repeat of John Paul II's historic visit in Izamal

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Pope John Paul II is greeted by thousands of faithful gathered in Izamal in 1993. Photo: Arturo Mari/AFP via Getty Images

After Friday’s arrival of the Vatican secretary of state, Yucatán Gov. Mauricio Vila Dosal took the opportunity to extend an invitation to Pope Francis.

If the pope accepts, it would be only the second visit by a pontiff to this heavily Catholic region.

In his office in the Government Palace, Vila Dosal met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who Saturday will lead the ordination of Monsignor Fermín Sosa Rodríguez in Izamal, where Pope John Paul II visited in 1993.

His historic tour was the first since Mexico restored diplomatic relations with the Vatican after a 130-year rift.

Meeting with 3,000 representatives of 500 Indian cultures at a Franciscan monastery built atop the pyramid to the Mayan sun god, John Paul spoke in Spanish and a few words of Mayan, impressing his followers.

John Paul’s appearance in Yucatán was an attempt to reach out to indigenous Maya amid the growth of evangelical Protestant sects.

Izamal’s famously yellow houses are said to be directly connected to that papal visit. As one story goes, to honor the pope, officials painted everything the same egg-yolk color, even the convent, matching the same hue that dominates the Vatican flag. That account is in dispute.

Vila Dosal indicated that it’s time for Pope Francis to retrace his predecessor’s steps.

“I would like, if you consider it well, to extend an invitation to visit Yucatán and be a witness, as I have been, of the faith and strength of Yucatecan society, which strives every day to get ahead, which never lets down its guard and that gives its best for its land and for its brothers and sisters,” Vila Dosal’s invitation reads.

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