VATICAN CITY, MARCH 18, 2008 ( Those who make an offering during Holy Thursday's Mass in the Basilica of St. John Lateran will be offering a gesture of solidarity to orphans in Cuba.

Benedict XVI determined that the monetary offerings at the Holy Thursday Mass of the Last Supper will be earmarked for the orphanage "La Edad De Oro" (The Golden Age) in Havana. The sum will be presented to the Pope during the presentation of the gifts during the Mass.

Last year, the collection was directed to Caritas Somalia's heath care center in Baidoa, a destitute town in the southern part of the African nation.

The center provides free health care. And one year after the Pope’s contribution, the outpatient facility has increased its service to almost 170 patients a day. In an average month, the center serves more than 4,000 patients, Caritas reported.

Benedict XVI's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, visited Cuba in February, to mark the 10th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's trip to the island nation.


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