.- On Thursday morning, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone met with the Cuban Conference of Catholic Bishops (COCC) and delivered a message from Pope Benedict to the people of Cuba. While praising the legacy of Christianity, he also called on Cubans to renew their efforts to evangelize.
The meeting with the Cuban bishops marks the beginning of a 6-day visit by the Vaticanâs Secretary of State to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Pope John Paul IIâs 1998 visit to the island nation.
In his speech delivered at the Saint John Marie Vianney Priestsâ House in Havana, Cardinal Bertone began by recalling Pope John Paul IIâs visit. âRemembering, ten years later, those days that were unforgettable for the Cuban Church and the Cuban population, lived in front of the excited eyes of the whole world,â began Benedict XVI , âis no doubt a duty of gratitude for my revered predecessorâ and an opportunity to ârenew the evangelizing impulse that he left deeply imprinted in everybodyâs heart.â
âI spiritually feel amongst you, as is proven by the presence of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertoneâ, Pope Benedict wrote, professing his âesteemâ for the local clergy and âsympathy with the aspirations and concerns of all Cubansâ.
The Holy Father also had words of praise for the Christian legacy of Cuba. This faith âhas taken root in the Cuban soulâ, because the âvaluesâ of the Gospel, which arrived five centuries ago on the island, âhave had great influence over the birth of the nationâ and remain âa vital factor, not least for the harmony and the happy future of the country,â Benedict XVI wrote.
âThe believersâ job,â the Pope recalls in his message, is to show âthat the Church, in focusing its glance on Jesus, tends to do good, to promote the dignity of man, and, while sowing feelings of understanding, mercy and reconciliation, it helps improve man and societyâ.
The Holy Father also spoke about the priorities that the Cuban Church should have. âAnnouncing the right doctrine, introducing to, listening to and learning more about Godâs Word, promoting participation in the Sacraments and in the life of prayerâ; these are the âmain goals of pastoral workâ, since âbringing everyone to the salvation of Christ is the very core of the mission of the Church.â
The problems faced by the Church in Cuba were also addressed in the Popeâs letter. âSometimes some Christian communities feel oppressed by problems, by the scarcity of resources, by indifference or even by timidity, which can lead them to lose heartâ, the believers âknow they can always place their hopes on Christ Jesus, who never disappoints.â
With this encouragement, the Holy Father pointed to the âgreat importance give to the mission that the Church in Cuba carries out in favor of the needy ones, working in the service and care of men and women of every status, who deserve not only to be supported in their material needs, but also to be welcomed with affection and sympathyâ.
Benedict XVI closed his letter by reminding Cubans that they should look to the servant of God, FÃ©lilx Varela, and JosÃ© Marti, the âpropagator of love among Cubans and among all men.â