Benedict XVI calls for more freedom for the Catholic Church in Cuba
- Submitted by: Luis Manuel Mazorra
- Culture and Traditions
- 03 / 30 / 2012
After his stay in Cuba, from 26 to 28 March, where he shared with President Raul Castro and former President Fidel Castro, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his desire to grant more freedoms to the Catholic Church in the Caribbean island.
The Alitalia aircraft, carrying the head of the Vatican State and his entourage took off at 17:40 local (22:40 GMT) International Airport "José Martí" Havana to Rome.
In a room of the airport, where they were the farewell ceremony due to rain, Benedict XVI thanked able to visit this "beautiful" island, and the "interest" and "collaboration" of local authorities to carry out the trip.
After calling "closer harmony and make fruitful the best of the Cuban soul," the leader of the Catholic Church criticized the restrictive measures imposed from without negatively affecting the population, referring to the U.S. economic blockade imposed on Cuba 1962.
On the tour, Cuban President Raul Castro said that the people "and today hosted farewell with feelings of respect and affection" to Benedict XVI, after a visit which took place in an atmosphere of "mutual understanding" and allowed "to know us better and let him know the rightness of our intentions. "
A few hours before his departure, Benedict, 84, met with Fidel Castro, 85 years and retired from active political life since 2006 due to illness, who had expressed in an article last Tuesday that "happy" would greet the Catholic Church leader, as he did with his predecessor John Paul II in 1998, in Havana.
Both leaders spoke about "the serious problems facing humanity," a 30-minute interview held at the headquarters of the Papal, reported the official website Cubadebate.
"They exchanged animatedly about environmental issues, cultural, scientific, religious and the serious problems facing humanity," the source said.
The Pope also met yesterday with President Raul Castro in Havana's Revolution Palace (government headquarters), where Benedict XVI called for more space for the church and suggested that Friday, the day on which the faith Catholic commemorates the crucifixion of Christ, is a holiday on the island.
At the meeting of about 40 minutes, described as "very cordial and serene" by Vatican sources, both sides tried to "issues related to the situation in Cuba and hopes to contribute to the climate always positive when the country is facing."
Parallel to the meeting, the Vatican Secretary of State (prime minister), Tarcisio Bertone, met for 20 minutes with Cuba's First Vice President Jose Ramon Machado and Vice President of the Council of State, Esteban Lazo, among others.
With the motto of "Pilgrim of Charity," Benedict XVI arrived last March 26 in the afternoon, from Mexico, the airport "Antonio Maceo", in the eastern city of Santiago, invited by the government and the Conference of Bishops Catholics on the island.
At the welcoming ceremony, Raul Castro said the religious leader that "Cuba is received with affection and respect and is honored with his presence."
Hours later, Benedict XVI celebrated an outdoor Mass before more than 200,000 people in the square "Antonio Maceo", the second largest city in the country -864 kilometers east of Havana, where he praised the efforts of the Cuban in the preparation of this apostolic journey, which he described as desired.
After the Eucharist, the head of the Vatican State handed the "Golden Rose", one of the highest honors of the Catholic Church, the image of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, patroness of Cuba, which is dedicated a Jubilee Year to honor the 400th anniversary of the discovery of her image.
He also visited the shrine of the Virgin of Charity, in the Basilica of the town of El Cobre, 30 kilometers from Santiago, where he worshiped the patroness of Cuba, which called for the Caribbean island advance "for roads renewal and hope "and also prayed for the people of neighboring Haiti.
His last official activity was a Mass celebrated in the morning on Wednesday before thousands of people in the Plaza of the Revolution "José Martí" Havana, where Benedict XVI called to love and reconciliation among Cubans.
"Cuba and the world need change, but they will only if everyone is able to ask for the truth and decides to take the path of love, reconciliation and brotherhood planting," he said in his homily, attended the President of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba.
Both in Santiago de Cuba and Havana, Benedict XVI was greeted in a warm by the people during his travels in the "Popemobile" along the avenues.
This was his second tour of Latin America that began in Mexico on 23 March and 23 international voyage in his seven years as pontiff.
The Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi, described the religious leader's visit to the island as "very positive".