2012-03-31 Vatican RadioA personal and direct encounter between the Pope and the people of Mexico and Cuba, indeed, with all the peoples of Latin America: this is certainly one of the most important meanings of the journey that has just ended. In the eyes of hundreds of millions of Catholics of the American continent it was a crucial step – following the Pope’s participation in the Assembly of Aparecida in 2007 – confirming Pope Benedict’s care and concern for them.
It was a very clear message of encouragement to the Church in the two countries, an explicit request for greater room for its presence and for religious freedom – not to protect the Church’s privileges but to enable it to serve, to contribute more effectively to the common good, to the building of a more fraternal, more just, more reconciled and more peaceful society. The Pope is the chief pastor of the Catholic Church and it is primarily through the vitality of the Church that the service of faith passes into the life of the people. Seeing the spiritual heart of the journey as we watched Pope Benedict as a pilgrim before Our Lady of Cobre was a remarkable experience.
There will be those who continue to talk about meetings that didn’t happen: a visit to Guadelupe, meetings with Cuban dissidents or with the victims of Maciel… The Pope cannot always do everything he would like to do in a very short trip; but those who listen to him understand his spirit and his intentions, those who follow him know the coherence and courage of his message. The truly great encounter, that encompasses all particular meetings, has taken place, and it was profound, spontaneous and sincere. It is that service to faith, to hope, that the Pope wished to offer.