SILAO, Mexico — Pope Benedict XVI began a pilgrimage to the New World on Friday calling on Mexicans to conquer an "idolatry of money" that feeds drug violence and urging Cuba to leave behind a Marxism that "no longer responds to reality."
Mexican President Felipe Calderon and first lady Margarita Zavala greeted the pope at the airport in Silao and escorted him amid clanging church bells and cheers from a crowd.
Benedict descended the stairs without the cane he had used when he walked to the plane in Rome, the first time he had walked with it in public.
In a tarmac speech, Benedict referred again to the everyday violence that ordinary Mexicans confront, saying he was praying for all in need "particularly those who suffer because of old and new rivalries, resentments and all forms of violence."
He said he was coming to Mexico as a pilgrim of hope, to encourage Mexicans to "transform the present structures and events which are less than satisfactory and seem immovable or insurmountable while also helping those who do not see meaning or a future in life."
On Monday, Benedict will head for Cuba.
He said it is "evident that Marxist ideology as it was conceived no longer responds to reality," and he urged Cubans to "find new models, with patience, and in a constructive way."