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Wednesday, February 15, 2006


VATICAN CITY, FEB 15, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Pope to Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of San Cristobal de La Habana and president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba, for the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Cuban National Ecclesial Encounter.

  In his Message, dated February 2, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the Holy Father sends affectionate greetings to the bishops, priests, consecrated people and laity of Cuba, expressing his "spiritual closeness" and "encouragement for their evangelizing tasks."

  On this anniversary, writes Benedict XVI, it would be particularly appropriate to recall the words used by John Paul II on his visit to Cuba in 1998: "May Cuba open to the world, and may the world open to Cuba." Such openness, the Pope says, "requires us first of all to consider how to open heart and understanding to the things of God; how those who coexist can open to one another, believing and trusting in each another though with different ways of thinking and believing; and finally, how to open to the world, with its challenges, its possibilities and its difficulties."

  "Only through the gaze of God, a loving gaze, will it be possible to arrive at the truth of each individual, of each group and of those who live together in one land. On this journey, ... much help may be gained from each Christian's experience of prayer, in the silence and humility of daily work, in faithfulness to professed faith, in the implicit or explicit announcement of the Gospel. Much help is also to be had from the love of majority of Cubans for the 'Madre de la Cardida del Cobre," patroness of this land for so long, who accompanies its inhabitants with motherly tenderness."

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