March 26, 2012. (Romereports.com)
Benedict XVI arrived in Cuba in the second part of his trip to Latin America. At the airport in Santiago de Cuba, President Raul Castro met with the pope.
During his speech, the president of Cuba condemned the U.S. embargo, saying it was only meant to bring “hunger, desperation and the overthrow of the island”. Raul Castro highlighted the good relations shared between his country and the Holy See. He also noted that the citizens of Cuban are “a people of deep convictions”.
The pope then recalled the visit of John Paul II to the island, calling it “a breath of fresh air to Cuba”.
During his speech Benedict repeated that he traveled to Cuba as a pilgrim of Charity.
“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.”
Benedict XVI also spoke about the economic crisis that has affected much
of the world. He said overcoming this crisis requires “upright men and
women of firm moral convictions, with noble and strong values who will
not be manipulated by dubious interests”.
“I am convinced 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 fine patrimony of spiritual and moral values which fashioned the
nation’s true identity.”
Benedict XVI then briefly met with Raul Castro in an airport lounge.
Afterward, a military parade sent off the pope to his next visit at the
residence of the archbishop of Santiago de Cuba. He then celebrated Mass
at the Plaza of Antonio Maceo in honor of 400th anniversary of Our Lady
of Charity, the patroness of Cuba.