2012-03-23 L’Osservatore RomanoEverything is in León is now ready to welcome Benedict XVI on his 23rd Apostolic Journey outside Italy. Mexico and Cuba are the destinations of the Pope's new pastoral commitment.
The Pontiff will stay in Mexico from Friday, 23 March, to Monday, 26 March, when he will take an early morning flight to Santiago de Cuba, his first stop in the Caribbean Island. His second stop will be Havana, where he will stay until the early afternoon of Wednesday, 28 March.
Mexicans are expecting from the Pope “an injection of hope for a violence-free future”, Archbishop José Guadalupe Martín Rábago explained to L'Osservatore Romano. Cuba, however, is hoping that Benedict XVI's Visit will be a further encouragement for facing the current period of transition that is orienting the country to democracy, as Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, Archbishop of San Cristóbal de La Habana [the Archdiocese of Havana], told our newspaper.
These expectations were confirmed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State who – in an extensive interview on various topics that he granted to Andrea Tornielli and that was published by La Stampa on Thursday, 22 March – reflected among other things precisely on the hopes of the Cuban people. In a previous interview granted to Mexican Television and to the daily El Sol de México the Cardinal provided similar reflections on the Visit to Mexico.
In his answer to a question about his personal knowledge of the situation in the Island today the Cardinal spoke of the Cuban aspirations for a fresh impetus in moving towards the full affirmation of democracy. Mentioning Pope Wojtyła's historic Visit, Cardinal Bertone identified it as a starting point for the renewed dialogue between State and Church, thanks to which “steps ahead towards religious freedom” have been taken and “cooperation” has been reinforced. Of course, he admitted, there are still other different situations to deal with, for example, concerning schools and ecclesiastical institutions; but he said he is convinced that Benedict XVI's Visit “will help the process of development towards democracy and will open up new places” for the Church's “presence and activity”. The Cardinal said he was sure that the Government and people of Cuba”will do their utmost to welcome the Pope and to express to him the esteem and trust that the Head of the Catholic Church deserves”.