Monthly Archives: March 2012

Pope calls for justice, peace, reconciliation in Cuba

Vatican City, 26 March 2012 (VIS) – “I come to Cuba as a pilgrim of charity, to confirm my brothers and sisters in the faith and strengthen them in the hope which is born of the presence of God’s love in our lives. I carry in my heart the just aspirations and legitimate desires of all Cubans, wherever they may be, their sufferings and their joys, their concerns and their noblest desires, those of the young and the elderly, of adolescents and children, of the sick and workers, of prisoners and their families, and of the poor and those in need”.

These were the words pronounced by Benedict XVI as he began his apostolic trip to Cuba, where he arrived this afternoon from Mexico. The Pope was greeted at the airport of Santiago de Cuba, the island’s second largest city, by Raul Castro, president of Cuba, Archbishop Dionisio Guillermo Garcia Ibanez, president of the Cuban Episcopal Conference, and Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of Havana.

In his welcome address the Holy Father spoke of the “indelible mark” left on the island by the visit of Blessed John Paul II. “For many, whether believers or not”, he said, “his example and his teachings are a luminous guide for their personal lives and their public activity in the service of the common good of the nation. His visit to this island was like a gentle breath of fresh air which gave new strength to the Church in Cuba, awakening in many a renewed awareness of the importance of faith and inspiring them to open their hearts to Christ, while at the same time kindling their hope and encouraging their desire to work fearlessly for a better future. One of the important fruits of that visit was the inauguration of a new phase in the relationship in Cuba between Church and State, in a new spirit of cooperation and trust, even if many areas remain in which greater progress can and ought to be made, especially as regards the indispensable public contribution that religion is called to make in the life of society”.

The Holy Father also referred to the four hundredth anniversary of discovery of the image of “Nuestra Senora de la Caridad del Cobre”, saying that “since the beginning she has been very much present in the personal lives of Cubans as well as in the great events of the nation, especially since independence, for she is honoured by all as the true mother of the Cuban people.

“Devotion to the ‘Virgen Mambisa'”, he added, “has sustained the faith and inspired the defence and promotion of all that gives dignity to the human condition and fundamental rights, and it continues to do so today with ever greater strength, giving visible witness to the fruitfulness of the preaching of the Gospel in these lands, and to the profound Christian roots which shape the deepest identity of the Cuban soul. Following in the footsteps of countless pilgrims down the centuries, I too wish to go to El Cobre to kneel at the feet of the Mother of God, to thank her for her concern for all her Cuban children, and to ask her to guide the future of this beloved nation in the ways of justice, peace, freedom and reconciliation”.

The Pope then went on to refer to the difficult world economic situation, noting that many people see it “as part of a profound spiritual and moral crisis which has left humanity devoid of values and defenceless before the ambition and selfishness of certain powers which take little account of the true good of individuals and families. We can no longer continue in the same cultural and moral direction which has caused the painful situation that many suffer. On the other hand, real progress calls for an ethics which focuses on the human person and takes account of the most profound human needs, especially man’s spiritual and religious dimension. In the hearts and minds of many, the way is thus opening to an ever greater certainty that the rebirth of society demands upright men and women of firm moral convictions, with deep values who will not be manipulated by dubious interests and who are respectful of the unchanging and transcendent nature of the human person”.

“I am convinced”, he concluded, “that Cuba, at this moment of particular importance in its history, is already looking to the future, and thus is striving to renew and broaden its horizons. Of great help in this enterprise will be the great patrimony of spiritual and moral values which created the nation’s true identity, and which are to be found concretely in the work and the life of many distinguished fathers of the country, like Blessed Jose Olallo y Valdes, the Servant of God Felix Varela, and the worthy Jose Marti. For her part, the Church too has diligently contributed to the cultivation of those values through her generous and selfless pastoral mission, and renews her commitment to work tirelessly the better to serve all Cubans”.

Vatican Information Service