.- Today the Vatican released the text of a message sent from Pope Benedict XVI to Cardinal Jamie Ortega y Alamino, Archbishop of San Cristobal de La Havana, and president of the Cuban Bishopâs Conference. In it, he encouraged the people of Cuba to open their hearts to the God and the world, striving to find ways to live in peaceful coexistence.
The Popeâs message was sent on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Cuban National Ecclesial Encounter and dated February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord,
It contains the Holy Fatherâs affectionate greetings to Cubaâs bishops, priests, consecrated people and laity and expresses his "spiritual closeness" and "encouragement for their evangelizing tasks."
Benedict began by recalling the words of the late Pope John Paul II during his 1998 Cuban visit, which he called particularly appropriate for the anniversary.
On that occasion, John Paul said, "May Cuba open to the world, and may the world open to Cuba."
Such openness, Benedict noted, "requires us first of all to consider how to open heart and understanding to the things of God; how those who coexist can open to one another, believing and trusting in each another though with different ways of thinking and believing; and finally, how to open to the world, with its challenges, its possibilities and its difficulties."
"Only through the gaze of God, a loving gaze,â he went on, âwill it be possible to arrive at the truth of each individual, of each group and of those who live together in one land.â
The Holy Father stressed that âOn this journey, ... much help may be gained from each Christian's experience of prayer, in the silence and humility of daily work, in faithfulness to professed faith, in the implicit or explicit announcement of the Gospel.â
He added that âMuch help is also to be had from the love of majority of Cubans for the 'Madre de la Cardida del Cobre," patroness of this land for so long, who accompanies its inhabitants with motherly tenderness."