.- As he concluded his historic trip to Cuba, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged the people of the island nation to âlook again to the faith of your eldersâ and to âdraw from that faith the strength to build a better future.â
By allowing the âmost noble valuesâ of the Cuban soul to blossom, the country can create âthe basis for building a society of broad vision, renewed and reconciled,â he said as he prepared to leave for Rome.
During a March 28 farewell ceremony at JosÃ© MartÃ International Airport, the Pope urged the nation to âtrust in the Lordâs promisesâ and be open to the Gospel âso as to authentically renew your personal and social life.â
Looking to the future, the Holy Father noted the need to âreject immovable positions and unilateral viewpoints which tend to make understanding more difficult and efforts at cooperation ineffective.â
In a reference to the political situation in Cuba, the Pope said respect for basic freedoms is âessential in order to respond adequately to the fundamental demandsâ of human dignity and to âbuild up a society in which all are indispensable actors in the future of their life, their family and their country.â
He also alluded to the continued embargo against Cuba, saying that ârestrictive economic measures, imposed from outside the country, unfairly burden its peopleâ and worsen problems of material need.
The Popeâs farewell comments echoed themes that he highlighted during much of his March 26-28 trip to Cuba.
Throughout his visit, he repeatedly emphasized the need for a renewal of faith, in order to bring about peaceful change in society.
He also stressed the importance of freedom â particularly religious freedom â in allowing the Church to help build up society.
In a March 27 meeting with Cuban President RaÃºl Castro, the Pope presented humanitarian requests and discussed the continued plight of Cuban dissidents, especially those in prison.
He also asked Castro to declare Good Friday a national holiday due to its importance in the Catholic calendar.
As his pilgrimage came to an end, the Holy Father promised to âcontinue praying ferventlyâ that Cuba may progress in its journey of âauthentic developmentâ in Christ.
He urged the nation to hold tight to Christ, explaining that âwherever he is present, discouragement yields to hope, goodness dispels uncertainties and a powerful force opens up the horizon to beneficial and unexpected possibilities.â
Pope Benedict finished his farewell by entrusting the Cuban people to Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, asking her to continue to âsustain them in the midst of their trials and to obtain from Almighty God the grace that they most desire.â