Pope Francis to visit Mexico in February

MEXICO CITY - Pope Francis, the first pontiff from Latin America, will visit overwhelmingly Catholic Mexico on February 12, Mexico's archbishop said Sunday.

"On that day, we are going to give him a very warm welcome," Cardinal Norberto Rivera said during his mass in Mexico City, Televisa reported.

Last month, the Vatican had announced a Mexico trip but without specifying a date.

Church officials have said Francis will visit the sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint.

Among Argentina-born Francis's priorities: reining in the flock.

Mexico remains majority Catholic but many Latin American nations, from Central America down to Brazil have seen millions adopt Protestantism in the past several decades.

In September, Francis, 78, visited Cuba and the United States. 

Francis became the first pope to address the US Congress, calling on elected leaders to take responsibility for crafting a fairer economic system, confronting global warming, restricting the arms trade and abolishing the death penalty.

Pope John Paul II visited Mexico five times in his more than 26-year pontificate. His successor Benedict XVI visited Mexico - population 123 million - in March 2012.