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January 25, 1997, HAVANA

Dear Holy Father,

Once again, the people of Havana and the neighboring provinces, as they did a few days ago when they welcomed you to Cuba, gather around the Successor of Peter. On this occasion to participate in the Sunday Eucharist which will be unforgettable, for today we have with us, presiding over this celebration, the man who makes the Christ the Good Shepherd present before the Universal Church: Pope John Paul II. It is a great privilege to listen to the Word of God that Your Holiness has come to announce to the poor and the suffering, bringing to their troubled hearts the liberation that only Christ can offer.

It is touching that here, in this Square, unique witness of our most recent history, the Christ of the Cross be elevated in your hands, between Heaven and Earth, offered for our nation and for each of those who form it, with His Body delivered for us and His Blood shed for us and for all. It is the same everyday Mass. It is truly the day that is unique.

We feel that from now on it will be impossible for us who are here not to love each other as brothers, not to forgive our mutual trespasses, not to forget our grievances, not to open ourselves to the truth said with sincerity, not to put in practice all the just, good and noble that may bring forth the reconciliation among Cubans and peace and happiness to our people.

Most Holy Father, such is the availability of our hearts to receive the message that Your Holiness brings. Rest assured that these are the feelings of the Bishop of this Archdiocese, of the Auxiliary Bishops, of those consecrated to God in priesthood and religious life, of the deacons, the faithful people, and I am sure, of all those gathered here, for they know that your long trip to Cuba, your presence among us, your tireless vitality of these days, are the fruit of that love for Cubans Your Holiness has in his heart of Father and Shepherd. And no one goes to a date dictated by love with a feeling other than benevolence and docility. Our hearts are disposed, our senses alert.

Teach us, Father, the road of Truth, show us our mistakes, animate our faith, enliven the hope of this people of the Archdiocese of Havana and its suffragan sees of Pinar del Río and Matanzas.

As in today’s reading of the Gospel, all eyes are fixed on you, but it is the eyes of the soul that hope to see God’s salvation to be announced to them today by the Bishop of Rome, who is visiting with this part of the Chuch living in Cuba, as a Messenger of Truth and Hope. Please received, dear Father and Shepherd, the homage of filial love of this people that have awaited your for so long and greet your with devotion.