Church's Social Doctrine Could Aid Cuban Society, Says Pope

Sends Message for Bicentenary of Archdiocese

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 13, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Cuba's laity should be educated about the Church's social doctrine in order to enlighten the island nation "through peaceful dialogue" where freedom and love can prevail, says John Paul II.



The Pope made that point in a message sent for the bicentenary of the Cuban Archdiocese of Santiago. Celebrations marking the bicentenary began Nov. 23 with a Mass in the cathedral of Santiago, presided over by Archbishop Pedro Meurice Estiu. Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino of Havana was among those on hand for the Mass.

John Paul II wished to be united spiritually in "the thanksgiving to the Almighty for the abundant fruits of Christian life obtained in these years," the message states, sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano and read by Archbishop Meurice.

"The Pope encourages each parish to foster, through civic and religious formation, the integral education of all those who draw near to the Church with a desire to grow in humanity," the text continues.

This task needs the "generous collaboration of missionaries, catechists and committed laymen" and the fostering of "human promotion and social assistance of the neediest," the Holy Father said.

"Moreover, it might be of great help to prepare the laity with the study and application of the social doctrine of the Church to illuminate serenely all realms of Cuban society through peaceful dialogue and a fraternal coexistence, where freedom, justice, truth and love prevail," the message continued.

Lastly, the Holy Father encouraged Cubans "to always be witnesses of unity and fidelity to the message of Christ," commending "the people of God on pilgrimage in Santiago de Cuba to the protection of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre."