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Thursday, December 10, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 10 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Eduardo Delgado Bermudez, the new Cuban ambassador to the Holy See, today presented his Letters of Credence to the Holy Father.

  In his remarks to the diplomat the Pope noted how, "through hopes and difficulties, Cuba has conquered a leading role, especially in the economic and political context of the Caribbean and Latin America. Moreover, certain signs of openness in relations with the neighbouring United States presage new opportunities for a mutually beneficial rapprochement, in full respect for the sovereignty and rights of States and their citizens".

  Cuba, "by continuing to collaborate with many countries in such fundamental areas as literacy and healthcare, favours international co-operation and solidarity without subordinating these factors to any interests other than those of helping people in need. It is to be hoped that all this may contribute to fulfilling the call made by my venerated predecessor Pope John Paul II on his historic visit to your island: 'May Cuba, with all its magnificent potential, open itself up to the world, and may the world open itself up to Cuba'".

  Like other countries Cuba is also suffering "the consequences of the serious world crisis which, in addition to the devastating effects of natural disasters and the economic embargo, particularly affects the poorest people and families. ... The Catholic Church in Cuba which at the present time, as always, feels herself to be close to the people, wishes to offer her own modest but effective assistance", said the Holy Father. He also highlighted how greater co-operation with the Cuban authorities "has enabled the realisation of important aid and reconstruction projects, especially in the wake of natural catastrophes".

  "It is my hope", he went on, "that tangible signs of openness in the exercise of religious freedom will continue to increase, as has been happening over recent years". These signs include: "the celebration of Mass in various prisons, the performance of religious processions, the repair and restitution of certain church buildings and the construction of a number of religious houses, as well as the extension of social security to cover priests and religious".

  "In order to continue along this path, especially for the benefit of the citizens of Cuba", the Pope continued his address to the ambassador, "it is also to be desired that dialogue may continue with a view to reaching mutual agreement - following forms similar to those established with other States, yet while respecting the specific characteristics of your country - on a juridical framework to define the existing (and never-interrupted) relations between the Holy See and Cuba, a framework capable of guaranteeing the sound development of the life and pastoral activity of the Church in that nation".

  Finally the Holy Father expressed his hope that the climate "which has made it possible for the Church to offer her own modest charitable contribution, may also favour her participation in the social communications media and in complementary educational duties, consistent with her specific pastoral and spiritual mission".
CD/LETTERS CREDENCE/CUBA:DELGADO            VIS 20091210 (510)

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