Cardinal Ortega: Pope will leave spiritual mark on Cuba

Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino of San Cristobal de la Habana, Cuba. St. Peter's Basilica.
Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino of San Cristobal de la Habana, Cuba. St. Peter's Basilica.

.- In a Cuban state-run television address, Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino of Havana said Pope Benedict's upcoming trip to the country will leave a lasting spiritual change among the people.

In his historic message on March 12, Cardinal Ortega prayed that “the presence of the Pope in Cuba will leave an immeasurable spiritual mark that cannot be reduced to statistics, but that will remain always in our hearts, in the spirit of the people.”

During his speech, Cardinal Ortega recounted his experience at the Feb. 18 consistory in Rome, when the Pope created 22 new cardinals.

At the conclusion of a meeting prior to the ceremony, “Benedict XVI looked up and saw me, and he called me over with a smile, so I was the first cardinal to greet the Pope that day.”

“With great affection he took my hand and said, 'See you in Havana,'” the cardinal said.

Those words “reveal all of the Pope’s desire, his sympathies, his excitement to visit us and to respond to our invitation and to come as a pilgrim to Cuba in this jubilee year,” he added.

Cardinal Ortega recalled that when Blessed John Paul II visited Cuba in 1998, he was accompanied by then Cardinal Ratzinger, who was very moved by the visit.

After his election as Pope, Cardinal Ortega learned that Benedict XVI has always kept “Cuba in his heart since the beginning of his pontificate as a place he wanted to visit.” He issued the Holy Father repeated invitations to visit the island, and ultimately, the cardinal recalled, President Raul Castro also invited the Pope to come.

The celebration of the 400th anniversary of the devotion to Our Lady of Charity in Cuba convinced the Holy Father the time was right for the visit, he explained.

Cardinal Ortega said he hopes the papal visit will “revive a sleeping faith, a faith that has been somewhat erased but is present in the hearts of the people. And the Pope thus feels that he is coming to confirm us in that faith, to reaffirm in us those Christian values that the faith has sown in our country.”

The Pope is the Vicar of Christ on earth who “is coming to Cuba to care for that flock. That command is for him: Tend my sheep, feed my lambs. That is the command the Lord gave to Peter which he fulfills in his person.”

“Pope Benedict XVI is the Pope of the Truth” and he knows that “without truth there is no science.  Nobody can make a new scientific discovery without first getting to the truth of things. 

Nobody can reach a valid conclusion about an analysis of reality without first getting to the truth of things.  In other words, the human being must seek the truth, and the Pope has been a defender of this cause, of those who search for the truth,” Cardinal Ortega said.

He warned against the dangers of seeing truth as relative and against the “absolutism or truly totalitarian or tyrannical regime that results from someone claiming to posses the one and only truth.”

“That is not what the Pope proposes regarding truth. Neither of these two excesses is acceptable,” the cardinal said.

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