Pope Benedict Ends Cuba Visit

Pope Benedict XVI concluded his first official visit to Cuba after meeting with former President Fidel Castro and holding a mass before a multitude gathered in Havana's Revolution Plaza. During his trip, which included a stop in Mexico, the pope called on Cuba's government to reconsider Marxism and urged the people to embrace the faith of their elders.

They walked the last kilometer, and more, to witness Pope Benedict's mass.

Photo Gallery

In his homily, the pontiff spoke of his joy at the recent increase in freedom given to the Roman Catholic Church in Cuba. But he also referred to the isolation of a country that has been under a U.S. embargo for the past 50 years.

“Cuba and the world need change, but this will occur only if each one is in a position to seek the truth and chooses the way of love, sowing reconciliation and fraternity,” he said.

Before arriving in Cuba, Benedict called on the government to recognize that Marxism, in his words, “no longer corresponds to reality.”

At a press conference on Tuesday, the official in charge of economic reforms, Vice President Marino Murillo, rejected the pope's critique.

"In Cuba there won't be political reform,” he said.

Marxist revolutionary heroes Ernesto “Che” Guevarra and Camilo Cienfuegos looked over their shoulders as they prayed to God.

It was hot, even for Cubans, and it was hard to see from so far away. But it was still meaningful for Clara Martinez.

“Having the pope in Cuba is very important for religious people. I think it's an unforgettable experience and may be the last time. It's not often that the pope visits," Martinez said.

Catholics remember Pope John Paul II's visit in 1998. They are a small minority in Cuba, which has a variety of religious groups.

The Vatican is hoping to win over the many Cubans who mix Catholic and African traditions.

Katia Ogania may be prepared to convert.

“I'm an atheist. But I wouldn't mind, because if it's for the good of my people. I'm there,” Ogania said.

Many people came out of faith, many out of curiosity. But few expect that Benedict's visit will lead to any real political change.

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Cha Cha Cohen
April 08, 2012 3:26 AM
Pope need not look back but to look forward. He should lecture the world leaders who are responsible for all the mishaps and injustices, killings and the wars in this world. There is no defender for the weaks and poors who are under the mercy of Pharao like mights! He should talk about fashionable occupied area,oppression and deprivation which are the root cause of all misery!

by: Rachel
April 05, 2012 3:46 PM
He should of told Fidel to free Cuba Free Cuba they don't have anything he took everything from them even churches hit ... You know what he did god bless a man who kill so many people WHAT?????????

by: Gab to Lucien Bonnet
March 30, 2012 4:16 AM
Haiti has been devastatingly poor for a very long time, with poor roads, poor buildings, and lack of food. Why are there all these nice Churches in Haiti, when Christian money and volunteers to teach Christianity should have been sending heavy equipment and volunteers to plow the fields, build sound structures for buildings, hospitals and schools and to make new roads. Even World Bank money, and billions given in charity should have been used for this purpose.

by: Gab
March 30, 2012 4:05 AM
The Pope has a voice that actually reaches billions of people through these media events. He should loudly and visibly condemn twenty-eight conflicts and border wars around the world today involving repressive Islamic regimes. And to NVO, throughout the Holocaust, Pius XII was consistently besieged with pleas for help on behalf of the Jews. The papacy did nothing, and said nothing condemning the Nazis.

by: NVO
March 29, 2012 3:50 PM
At Pentecost the Holy Spirit was sent to be the Comforter. NOT a pope! Peter is NOT the rock, Christ is=1Cor 10:4. The idea of a pope is NOT Biblical! You make the Word of God of NONE EFFECT through your traditions=Mark 7:13. The RC church is a CONFIRMED Amillennial/Replacement Theology church. Both doctrines based on and rooted in ANTI-SEMITISM. HIDEOUS!

by: Lucien BONNET
March 28, 2012 6:48 PM

Various political comments were issued when the news of your trip to Haiti, . It leads people to reflect on the vast, ever-present aspect of the relations between the West and the Black world: anti-Black prejudices in Christianity and Science.

Consider racial conflicts in the United States, for instance.


Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanoni
John Owens
October 08, 2015 7:32 PM
Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs