|GREETING MESSAGE FROM MONSIGNOR
ADOLFO RODRIGUEZ HERRERA, BISHOP OF CAMAGUEY, TO THE HOLY FATHER, JANUARY 23, 1998
Holy Father, we do not have in our vocabulary any other word we could pronounce with so much justice, truth and pleasure, than this word of few letters, of so easy pronunciation, and so hard omission, that is the word Thanks, Holy Father, in the name of everyone here!
I have the honor to gather the grateful feeling from all the Camaguey people, the ones congregated here and the missing ones whom we keep alive in our memories and in our hearts: those who could not come because of the long distances; those who are ill and in this splendid morning had a sad awakening; the ones that are hindered because of their condition of being imprisoned, or those in continuos process factories and in the name of all of them to say to you: welcome to this land which is the fertile Gospel land where it is enough to sow the seed and look at it growing and blooming.
We, the Cuban people, use to repeat this popular quotation: "The doors of my house are always open to you"; and the same way we say to you in this marvelous morning: the doors of our homes, of our hearts are always open to you in this so dear island, small, but at the same time huge; far away but so close; poor, but so rich. Its richness, its greatness are in its glorious history, the sun, the seas, the Cuban royal palm, the sky so blue, the fertility of her soil but they are mostly in the nobility of her sons the Cubans, all of them so deeply impressed by a culture of the heart that makes a Cuban so friendly, affable, open-minded so frequently defined by all those visiting us, as "good people," a praise we do not deserve at all, but we love to hear. This noble people merit this visit, and they will not forget in the memory that is located in their minds, as well as in the one in their hearts, the vestige which is leaving this historical visit, the inspiration that is coming from your person and mission, the example of your life so strongly signed by the cross but brighten by the faith, the gesture of coming here from far away traveling so many and so fatiguing miles, is not the best conditions for you. Love makes tremendous things, or it is not love at all, and only love, and a very massive one, had made possible this wonder we will not finish to thank you.
This visit is very important for us in this year we are celebrating the Centennial of our Independence Wars, because we need to clarify once again, our national identity going back to our roots. And your visit coincides with the coming of the Third Millennium, in which we want to go over new ways accompanied by Christ in a new century plenty of hopes, giving an answer of faith to the new pastoral challenges of the Church of the XXI century, walking all the time along the paths of peace, love, and concord, accompanying this people who are not afraid because of the diversity but division, who are afraid of disagreement instead of concord.
Holy Father, I introduce ot you will all my pleasure, this happy and thankful people. Here there are our priests, deacons, female religious and students from our seminaries, here there are too, our Civil Authorities, Pastors from other Christian confessions, here we can find also non believers whom we consider brothers and friends, here there are young people from other dioceses and from other countries. And here there are also our lays, the hundreds of them who in their free time of work or school, getting time from no one knows, have visited in their feet tens of thousands of families door by door in all the dioceses, announcing Christ and inviting people to this Mass, receiving almost everywhere an unanimous welcoming disposition to the message they carried. In Cuba we had several stages in the process of evangelization; the first one done by Spanish Religious; a second one carried out by Ministers from other Christian denominations, coming that time mainly from the United States of America. This time, the Cuban lays have spread the Gospel to the Cubans, and that was possible because we were expecting you.
Holy Father, bless us with an extensive benediction which hugs and embraces all the Cubans in the same closeness of fraternity, comprehension, and peace, now and forever.
WELCOME GREETING OF THE YOUTH TO THE POPE
Mass to be celebrated by the
January 23rd, 1998
Blessed be the feet of the messenger announcing peace!
Blessed are you John Paul II, father and friend!
Holy Father, from the moment we knew you would come, in our hearts of young Cuban people, a flame began burning, we felt it heating, and we could see its light. The flame, heat, and light are just here filling out this square and this city; and because we recognize you as the Pope of the young.
Thanks Holy Father for being here!
We feel you so close to us in spite of living far away from our country. We know you have suffered. We know you have lived dealing with pain and sickness. We know that you have felt, as we have too, the temptation of a softly living, renouncing to Christ. But we are certain that here, this morning, the strength of Jesus Christs resurrection has prevailed in you as in so many of us.
Dear brother John Paul, the Cuban young people are here. We come with our limitations and troubles, with our sins, but we are disposed to receive in our hearts, the grace and love of Christ that is communicated to us through His Vicar on Earth.
Holy Father, we want you to believe that from this moment on, we promise to be better. Accept that we will multiply our faith, that we will live with a fresh hope.
Thanks for being with us!
The young hearts from Camaguey and Cuba welcome you !
Welcome Successor of Peter. We want to hear you!
Welcome John Paul II.