Cuban President Sees Pope Benedict XVI Off in Havana


Raul Castro saw Pope Benedict XVI off this Wednesday afternoon, at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport. The  Cuban president was accompanied by governmental officials, Cardinal Jaime Ortega and other Catholic authorities.

The Holy Father left after having paid a three-day pastoral visit to Cuba which, according to Vatican authorities, was a very positive one. President Raul Castro said the visit took place in mutual understanding and allowed to know each other better. The Pope thanked the President and other Cuban authorities for their generous cooperation in the preparation of his trip.

Doing common good is a principle we learned from Father Felix Varela; we favor everything that enables the family in the education of offspring, we take care of children as our major hope, and encourage the youth,  said Raul.

We recognize the patriotic action by Cuban émigrés from those who fought for independence to those who now oppose political manipulations against Cuba.

For your affection to the Cuban people I express in the name of Cuba our deepest gratitude and affection as well, the Cuban president concluded.

Meanwhile the Pope thanked the President and other Cuban authorities for their generous cooperation in the preparation of his trip.

He said that he concluded his pilgrimage but that he will continue praying that Cuba goes forward and be the home of all and for all Cubans, where justice and freedom coexist in a climate of serene fraternity.

“The present hour urgently demands that in personal, national and international coexistence we reject immovable positions and unilateral viewpoints, which tend to make understanding more difficult and efforts at cooperation ineffective, the Pope said to then  conclude: Hasta Siempre, Cuba, a land made beautiful by the maternal presence of Mary. May God bless your future.

Benedict XIV arrived in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba March 26, where he officiated mass and toured the Shrine of the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre, Cuba´s Patron Saint. On March 27, the Pope travelled to Havana, where he met with President Raul Castro and on March 28 he officiated mass and met with Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro.

During his stay in Cuba, the Holy Father has been met by some 500 000 Cubans, either during mass or other encounters. The Pope came to Cuba as a pilgrim of the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre, in the context of the 400th anniversary of the find of her image.

This papal visit, which takes place 14 years after the trip to the island by Pope John Paul II, has been an unforgettable event, which left a significant imprint on the Cuban people, who received the Pope with hospitality, affection and respect.

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