Pope visits Cuba

Pope Benedict XVI recently made an “Apostolic Journey” to Mexico and the Republic of Cuba. According to news reports, the Pope visited Cuba in the hopes of reviving the Catholic faith there and to press for greater freedoms for his church.

On Tuesday the Pope visited the Basílica Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre (National Shrine of Our Lady of Charity) in El Cobre. At the church is a statue of Mary holding a baby Jesus in a depiction called Our Lady of Charity also known as Our Lady of Cobre. The statue was found by two men and their slave around 1612 and is elaborately adorned in gold cloth and jewels.

In 1998, Pope John Paul II, on his visit to Cuba, crowned the small statue and named Our Lady of Cobre as the patroness and “Queen of Cuba” during a papal Mass.

The current Pope’s visit takes place as part of the Jubilee Year to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the statue. During the Pope’s Tuesday visit to the statue he prayed:

“I have entrusted to the Mother of God the future of your country, advancing along the ways of renewal and hope, for the greater good of all Cubans,” the Pope said. “I have also prayed to the Virgin for the needs of those who suffer, of those who are deprived of freedom, those who are separated from their loved ones or who are undergoing times of difficulty.”

Cuban President Raul Castro attended the two masses offered by the Pope.

In an Associated Press article on the Pope’s visit, some Cuban’s are quoted as expressing dissatisfaction on the hoopla surrounding the visit and their being encouraged to participate. “I’m here to support the leaders of our government, to support our revolution,” said Dioleisis Fontela, a university professor.

Fidel Castro met with the Pope in Havana on Wednesday. He said he decided on the meeting after hearing from Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez about the Pope’s willingness to meet.

In his recent reflection entitled “The Hard Times of Humanity” the leader of the Cuban Revolution talked about the meeting with the head of State of the Vatican.

“I will happily greet His Excellency Pope Benedict XVI, as I did with Pope John Paul II in 1998, a man for whom contact with children and the humble raised feelings of affection.”

Before arriving on his trip to Mexico and Cuba, the Pope said that Marxism as it was originally conceived is irrelevant for today’s reality.

Photo: Our Lady of Charity in the Sanctuary dedicated to her in El Cobre, Cuba, photographed by Francisco Javier Arbolí in December of 1992. Wikipedia CC 2.0


Barbara Russum
Barbara Russum

Barbara Russum is a longtime-reader and supporter of People's World and is part of the production team. As a cancer survivor she makes health care for all a high priority. Former manager of the late, great Modern Bookstore, she values books, public libraries and the struggle for universal literacy. She occasionally writes book reviews and articles for People's World.




  • Quote:

    I think the Pope really meant Catholicism and all the other outdated and suppressive ideologies.

  • The pope only reinforced the reason why their needs to be separation of church and state. It is too bad he could not have only come to speak of peace, brother/sisterhood and understanding between peoples. But who knows better of how to rule with torture and oppression than the church of money. It is sad he attempted to promote the immoral ways of the capitalist elites, but any change to that threatens his own power and so it is. True believers of God know that he does not just exist in words written on pages and will be able to see through the corruption that infiltrates the world.

  • I agree with what Harold Wallace posted, the pope has not a leg to stand on with such a comment. What also disgust me is the way they have handled the molestation of thousands of children. They have no right to speak with any authority after such behavior.

  • So the Pope prayed for “renewal” in Cuba. Well, that was thoughtful. We can all stand some renewal, and there is always room for improvement in every human being and human institution. That being said, perhaps, in return, the brothers Castro can pray for His Holiness who, as the #1 foe of liberation theology, seems to have turned his back upon renewal in his Church. Tit for tat. Only seems fair.

  • Cuba has absolute freedom of religion and as a result the number of adherents to Roman Catholicism is falling faster than elsewhere in Latin America.

    The fastest growing religions are Methodism, Presbyterianism, Santaria and other sects. Even Eastern Orthodoxy is growing in Cuba due to all the intermarriages with Soviet expats. Only the RCC is shrinking. This probably explains much of Benedict’s pique.

    Ratzinger’s comments prove again that the Vatican is not really a Christian Church but rather a primarily political vehicle for the West’s ruling class.

    I’m a Christian. I’m also a communist. I support a wide concept of freedom of religion (having experienced the lack of it as a child in Soviet Union). But Mr Ratzinger is rude, out of line and not at all correct in his statements.

    He should better deal with the beam in his own eye rather than the speck in Cuba’s eye!

  • With all due respect to the Pope, I wish he was equally forthcoming with prayers for the freedom of those who suffer under the yoke of corporate capitalist hegemony worldwide.

  • The utter audacity of this man and what he represents is stomach turning. Whether or not he is a Nazi sympathizer takes a back seat to his turning a blind eye to the miscarriages of faith indulged in by so, so many pedophile priests.

    All religions should be banned from interfering with civil government. And talk about obsolete! Why are we debating over who should control their own bodies?


  • Russum states, “Before arriving on his trip to Mexico and Cuba, the Pope said that Marxism as it was originally conceived is irrelevant for today’s reality.” I really don’t think Pope Benedict is that enlightened to say such a thing. I could very well say that his religion as originally conceived, as well as its later reformations, are becoming more irrelevent for today’s, and the future’s, reality based on its historical roots of blind faith, rigid abstractions & blatant contradictions as well as not prioritizing reason and critical thinking based on its creators living over 2,000 years ago and thus being at a certain level of human development which we can now view as largely antiquated. Marxism, created in modern history and coinciding with modern science, has within it a means to directly look at human conditions in regards to how and why, in modern history, e.g., humans continue to struggle and have conflicts. For example, the kind of economics used and the political/ideological/social features that align with it. Thus, Marx & Engels’ complements, criticisms, condemnations and opposition to capitalism precisely because of its very nature; simply put, it doesn’t have a social-ethical ends, to use Albert Einstein’s term. Plus, there has been a slow but sure increase in the number of people worldwide who are not religious. Furthermore, the Catholic Church, among others, have their own sordid histories which Benedict didn’t/won’t mention. Thus, I find his moral stance to be a house of cards, and thus if one was, or many were, to prod it enough, it would come tumbling down.

  • the pope also called for an end to the us boycott in solidarity jim

  • So, let me get this straight… The head of a hierarchy consolidated under the decline of feudalism in the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries, the absolute theocratic ruler of one of the world’s last remaining city-states, a man whose views on gender and sexuality are so backward they should be a shameful and unsettling historical curiosity like witch-hunting, judicial duels, or animal trials, has the audacity to declare Marxism ‘irrelevant’?


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