Variety of articles about the Pope in Cuba

How Pope Benedict could shape religious freedom in Cuba

By Teo A. Babun | ECHO Cuba | Washington Post

Fourteen years ago, Pope John Paul II, great champion of freedom and warrior against communism, visited the island of Cuba. And Monday, his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, will follow suit.

But this pope has the chance to avoid the political traps that diminished the political, if not the spiritual, impact of the visit of the last pope, and to carry on the legacy of his predecessor—who solidified the Catholic Church’s position as the leader of the global cause for religious freedom.

Benedict’s visit comes at a time when the Cuban government is amid an aggressive public relations campaign to present itself as reformist. Last December, the government announced it would be releasing nearly 3,000 prisoners in advance of the pope’s visit. This notice came just a month after the government announced that for the first time since the communist revolution, the purchase and sale of private property would be legal.

Academics and diplomats around the world rejoiced and heralded a new era of change in Cuba. The Cuban exile community and those who know the oppressed nation more intimately knew better than to expect little more than a replay of 1998.

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Pope to visit Cuban capital of Havana on Tuesday

By David Ariosto | CNN

Pope Benedict XVI will fly to the Cuban capital of Havana on Tuesday and preside over a Mass in the city’s Revolution Plaza the following day.

Large crowds are expected. Preparations for the visit have included fresh coats of paint splashed across buildings and posters announcing the pope’s arrival tacked on city structures.

The trip is timed to the 400th anniversary of Our Lady of Charity, Cuba’s patron saint, but uncertainty looms over what will be said, with whom the pope will meet and what the visit will mean for Cubans.

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Pope urges Cuba to build an open society

By Cecilia Sanchez | Los Angeles Times

Raul Castro greets Benedict at Santiago’s airport, and thousands of Cubans line the streets. Some in the crowd say they hope the pontiff will foster more change.

In a historic trip to Cuba on Monday, Pope Benedict XVI reached out to island residents and exiles alike, urging Cubans to “build a renewed and open society, a better society.”

Benedict became only the second pontiff to travel to Cuba, a nation where the Roman Catholic Church has gradually gained ground as the communist government has been forced to reform many of its policies. Before his arrival, Benedict criticized Cuba’s Marxism as an obsolete model in need of change.

“I carry in my heart the just aspirations and legitimate desires of all Cubans, wherever they may be,” Benedict said in an airport welcoming ceremony in Santiago. “Their sufferings and their joys, their concerns and their noblest desires, those of the young and the elderly, of adolescents and children, of the sick and workers, of prisoners and their families, and of the poor and those in need.”

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Two Clerics Differ on Cuban Reform

By NICHOLAS CASEY | Wall Street Journal

As young men, Jaime Ortega and José Conrado Rodríguez were teacher and student at a Cuban Catholic seminary. Decades later, the teacher, now a cardinal, and the student, a country priest, are dueling over the soul of the island—and the part the church should play in saving it.

Their debate is over the church’s role in pushing for reform as the 53-year hold on power of Fidel Castro and his brother Raúl starts to wane. Cardinal Ortega, the senior Catholic clergyman in Cuba, offers a cautious critique of the government, while Father Rodríguez, from his parish pulpit in Santiago, preaches more open opposition.

On Monday, Pope Benedict XVI will arrive in Cuba, only the second visit to the nation by a pope. On Friday, he said that it is “evident that Marxist ideology as it was conceived no longer responds to reality,” and he urged Cubans to “find new models.”

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