Under the banner of both truth and freedom the Pope’s Visit to Cuba has concluded. It was the third Visit to America and twenty-third international Visit of his Pontificate. In six days, during which at least 1.5 million Mexicans and more than half a million Cubans — in the streets and at the Liturgical celebrations — were able to see Benedict xvi personally. And once again the Pontiff’s schedule was marked by repeated demonstrations of authentic affection and enthusiasm to a Pope who increasingly attracts for his timid kindness.
Truth and freedom are the words that Benedict XVI entrusted to the entire Cuban people, 15 years after his Predecessor travelled the Caribbean Island calling for Cuba to open itself up to the world and for the world to open itself up to Cuba. Since then several steps ahead towards opening itself have been made, certainly not easy due to international relations in addition to the economic global crisis. Now it must continue. The Pope said this explicitly in his Homily at the Mass in Havana and his Farewell Address.
In the heart of the ancient capital Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in the Plaza de la Revolución, under the extremely large memorial to José Martí, Cuban hero during the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, and in the presence of enormous images of the insurrection leaders which overthrew it. And it is precisely from this emblematic place the Pope said that the truth demands an authentic search: to overcome scepticism and relativism, but also irrationality and fanaticism.
Faith and reason — Benedict XVI therefore reiterated — are complementary in this search to at least establish an ethic which recognizes “the inviolable dignity of the human person” and that can bring together cultures and religions, authorities and citizens, believers and non-believers. It is therefore not without significance that these theme were also confronted in the meeting with Fidel Castro, privately received by the Pontiff at the Nunciature in Havana.
For its part the Church proposes the way of Christ with friendship and trust and with this, together with fundamental rights, she calls for the full assurance of religious freedom. The Holy See wishes that the society be renewed and reconciled with neither privileges nor impositions on her behalf. “That Cuba will be the home of all and for all Cubans, where justice and freedom coexist in a climate of serene fraternity” the Pope effectively summarized in his Farewell Address to the country, inviting it without reticence to a further opening, more profound and crucial, of itself to the person of Christ.
This American itinerary concluded with the announcement of the Gospel of which Benedict xvi spoke with simple and modest courage in order to support the faith in Mexico and Cuba and to offer a realistic and hopeful gaze for the future of the two countries and the whole continent. Hence it was a successful visit, to use the Pope’s adjective also used by his Predecessor on the Caribbean Island, which also made history.
St. Peter’s Square
Jan. 18, 2019
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