Father Jose Felix Perez, executive secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Cuba, announced yesterday that Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, will celebrate several Masses, inaugurate a monument and meet with government officials during his visit to Cuba February 20-26, 2008.
According to the French news agency AFP, Cardinal Bertone, who will travel to Cuba to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the visit to the country by Pope John Paul II in 1998, will celebrate Mass at the Cathedral of Havana on February 21. Later he will travel to Santa Clara on February 22 to inaugurate a monument to Pope John Paul II in the place where the late pontiff celebrated Mass during his historic visit to the country.
On February 23, Cardinal Bertone will travel to Santiago de Cuba will he will visit to the shrine to Our Lady of Charity, the patroness of Cuba.
Bishop Wilfredo Pino Estevez of Guantanamo-Baracoa invited the faithful to participate in an open-air Mass celebrated by Cardinal Bertone. During the Mass, the cardinal will bless the diocese, which was created by John Paul II during his 1998 visit. “We all give thanks to God for this event and we hope that you will accompany us in this joy. If you will be able to come, please let us know. We pray God will allow you to attend,” the bishop said in his open invitation.
February 25 and 26 will be set aside for “high-level” talks with Cuban officials. At the moment there are no plans for a meeting with the ailing Fidel Castro.
Cardinal Bertone, who expects to meet with Cuba’s provisional president Raul Castro, met with Fidel during a visit in October of 2005 when he was the archbishop of Genoa.