During an outdoor Mass and the inauguration of a monument to Pope John Paul II on Saturday in the city of Santa Clara, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone encouraged Cubans, especially young people, to bear witness to Jesus in society.
In his homily at Mass, the Vatican Secretary of State recalled that “it was precisely right here, on January 22, 1998, where the venerable Pontiff celebrated his first Mass on Cuban soil in order to pray for the families of this nation.”
“With one heart we implore the Lord to continue sustaining with his grace the self-denying and massive work of evangelization that the pastors and faithful are carrying out in this land,” the cardinal said. He called on Cubans to be witnesses to the “charity of Christ” in all places, “whether at home or at work, in hospitals or on the streets. The circumstances may change, but what remains unchangeable is our identification with the sentiments and attitude of Jesus. Then, with the help of his grace, we will be able to build a civilization in which lies, injustice, oppression and violence are overthrown by the strength of forgiveness and truth.”
Later addressing young people, Cardinal Bertone called on them to fix their eyes on Christ. “He will enrich you with his grace so that you will boldly set out on the path of a love that does not demand, but rather gives of itself without asking for anything in return. Let Jesus transform you interiorly and have the courage to ask yourselves if He is calling you to following [Him] with a life of special consecration,” he told the youth, exhorting them to be witnesses of the faith to their peers and examples of bold love of God and neighbor.
Monument to John Paul II
Immediately after the Mass, Cardinal Bertone inaugurated the first monument dedicated to Pope John Paul II on public ground.
During the blessing, he noted the special significance of the place, “since in Santa Clara (Pope John Paul II) celebrated his first Mass on this land, leaving here the first footprint of his intense journey as ‘messenger of hope’ through other places in the country.”
“The monument erected here to the memorable Pontiff is also a sign that that pilgrimage of his continues illuminating the Church today and those Cubans who long for the highest spiritual values for themselves and their homeland.”
“From now on,” he added, “this monument will remind Christians who come here of an event that marked a milestone in the history of the Church and of Cuba, pointing out to them as well the commitment to be witnesses of the truth of the Gospel and to pass it on to the new generations.”