.- Father Joaquín Alliende, the spiritual director of the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), is calling the resignation of Fidel Castro “a great opportunity for the Church.” He conveyed his belief by pointing out the “wisdom and tenacity” of the Cuban bishops in great times of need and Pope John Paul II’s prayers when he visited the nation.
Father Alliende referred to the prayers of Pope John Paul II, that the Cuban people might "open their hearts to Christ, the one and only Redeemer." Fr. Alliende added that the Pope's prayer that Christians might "live according to their faith" and those who had lost this faith "might regain it", was more relevant than ever today. John Paul II had likewise prayed that the Cuban nation might become "a homeland for brothers and sisters."
Fr. Alliende, expressed his confidence that after the difficult years of the past, the Cuban bishops would continue to lead the People of God "with wisdom and tenacity" in the present circumstances. The Church lives through the history of her peoples, he added, and seeks "every possible opportunity" to make her Lord Jesus Christ "newly present in the constantly changing circumstances of every nation."
He also pointed out that the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone is due to visit the country in the next few days, claiming that the trip is "a special gift of Jesus", since in this way the Christians in Cuba would be able to experience "the support of the charism, the wisdom and the strength of the successor of Peter, the Holy Father, Benedict XVI."
As a final point, Father Joaquín Alliende noted that on February 24, 1998 Pope John Paul II crowned the image of Our Lady of Cobre, the patroness of Cuba and declared her the "Mother of Reconciliation" for Cuba. It was then that he asked her to “unite her people.” He added, “May the events that are now unfolding there permit Cuba to restore her national solidarity, so that she may then set about planning her future."
Father Alliende is appealing to “all those who love the Church in Cuba” to accompany her “in these crucial moments, especially through prayer and with a watchful attentiveness that will lead us to a still more profound solidarity with her.”