Recently created metropolitan archbishops from around the world descended on Rome for the conferral of the pallium on June 29 at St. Peter's Basilica. Among them was Archbishop Thomas Wenski, whom CNA was able to ask about the ceremony, his archdiocese and the reconciliation process with Cuba.
On receiving the pallium, a band of wool placed on the the archbishops' shoulders to symbolize their role as shepherds and union with the Pope, Archbishop Wenski said that, for him, it was not only personally "moving," but "it was also a very significant moment in the life of the archdiocese of Miami.” The bestowal of the pallium, he explained, represents “the transition to a new archbishop and a new chapter in our ecclesial history."
Speaking about his new archdiocese, Archbishop Wenski said it is one of great diversity, uniting people from a variety of continents into a "mosaic of diversity."
Asked specifically about the Cuban-American contingent and the part they play in the reconciliation process with the island of Cuba, he said that the Cuban people, "are divided by the Florida straights, but they are also divided by ideology and history of some political divisions that run very deep." Nevertheless, they are a part of the reconciliation process with the island.
"So," he continued, "Cuba needs to undergo a transition and I believe a transition of some sorts is already in process, but what we pray and hope for is a 'soft landing' in this transition. And if there is going to be a soft landing, then we need to assure that the Cubans on both sides of the Florida strait, because they remain the same people, that they achieve some sort of a reconciliation so that Cuba can have a future of hope."
The Miami archbishop found hope specifically in the "new and unprecedented dialogue" taking place between the Church and Cuban authorities which could lead to the release of dozens of political prisoners in the country. "It's an important step," he explained, "because it represents the Church acting within the society in which it exists, acting not along a political agenda or influenced by any ideology, but acting as an agent of the Gospel and for Gospel values."
Most recently, the Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, was in Cuba from June 16-20 to mark the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Caribbean nation. Many saw the visit as a hopeful step towards the release of the nearly 200 political prisoners.
Following the archbishop's visit, the president of Cuban bishops, Archbishop of Santiago Dionisio García, told Reuters that "the fact of speaking with the authorities is going to consolidate this process (of the release of political prisoners) that all of us want to continue, because it will echo for the good of the country."
As for Archbishop Wenski, he pledged his own assistance in the process, saying that he would be willing to return to the island at any time and continue to provide assistance along with his "brothers in the Cuban episcopate."